USC president steps down after campus gynecologist scandal

University of Southern California President C. L. Max Nikias stepped down from his role effective Tuesday, according to a statement released by the school.

He had announced his plans to step down as president of the university in May, after a former campus gynecologist was accused of sexual misconduct. Nikias will move into the role of president emeritus and life trustee of the university, according to USC’s statement.

Board member Wanda Austin has been named interim president while the search for a permanent replacement continues.

Austin served as president and CEO of the Aerospace Corp. from 2008 to 2016. Described as an advocate for STEM, minorities and women, she received a Ph.D. in industrial and systems engineering from USC in 1988, according to the university statement.

Austin previously was appointed by Barack Obama to serve on the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology, and in 2016, she received the Goddard Astronautics Award.

Rick Caruso, the chairman of the university’s Board of Trustees, outlined its plans for the search for the next USC president.

More than two months ago, Nikias had agreed to step down following a scandal involving Dr. George Tyndall, a former campus gynecologist accused of sexual misconduct and using racist language while examining patients.

That announcement came after thousands of students and alumni signed an online petition demanding his resignation, alleging that USC failed to act after complaints of misconduct involving Tyndall, who worked at a university clinic for decades.

Several women have filed lawsuits against Tyndall and USC.

Tyndall’s attorney told CNN in July that his client “is adamant that he engaged in no criminal conduct while practicing medicine at USC.”

In response to Tuesday’s news, several lawyers representing women in lawsuits blasted the university’s decision to name Nikias the president emeritus and life trustee.

Attorney Gloria Allred, who is representing 36 women who accuse Tyndall of misconduct, called the move “a slap in the face to the hundreds of female students who have alleged abuse at the hands of Dr. Tyndall.”

John Manly, who represents 150 women who say they are victims of Tyndall, described the appointment for Nikias as “crazy.”

Andy Rubenstein, who represents 51 plaintiffs, called Tuesday’s move “window dressing.”

“A cosmetic departure 10 weeks after this was made public will do nothing to change the culture that has operated in the dark for 30 years,” he said.

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Rick Caruso.