Following Scandals, USC Board of Trustees Makes Radical Reforms


Tiffany Zhu, Staff Writer

After many scandals have damaged the university’s reputation, USC trustees agreed to impose more restrictions on the board. New reforms have been adopted to improve upon abilities to effectively handle past scandals. To correct past missteps, trustees voted to reduce and diversify the board, and to impose limits on term, age, and the powers of the university president and board chair. 

By limiting board members to three five-year terms and reducing the age limit to 75 years-old, USC will reduce the size of the board to 35 members. To ensure that trustees are carrying out their role efficiently,  the executive committee will be composed of past and current board chairs, the university president and heads of board committees. USC has committed to include more women, racial and ethnic minorities and people of various socioeconomic classes  

In the past, USC failed to address the consequences of scandals. USC’s board consisted of 57 of the most wealthy and powerful people in L.A. Past members included director Steven Spielberg and Lakers owner Jeanie Buss. In 2016, Carmen A. Puliafito, former dean of the Keck School of Medicine and eye surgeon, was at the center of one of USC’s biggest scandals. While employed at USC, Puliafito consumed drugs with a circle of criminals and drug addicts. Since Puliafito attracted large donations, former USC President C.L. Max Nikias renewed Puliafito’s term, though he eventually resigned.

Since Nikias resigned in 2018, board members have replaced him with Carol L. Folt, the former president of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; she was inaugurated this past September. Through prioritizing immigrant students and making USC more affordable, she hopes to help USC evolve and grow. 

USC has made much needed changes to hold the board accountable and to challenge the belief that the university is too focused on raising revenue. Board Chairman Rick Caruso said, “I’m very proud of my fellow trustees because change sometimes is a little bit difficult but we’re on a path to… allow the board to be more engaged, more authentic, require more accountability of the administration and really be more connected to the campus.” 

Faculty have also voiced their belief that giving professors and students a position on the governing board and committees would bridge the gap between the trustees, students, and faculty. 

Photo courtesy of NEWS.USC.EDU