Presidential Transition

As of August 7, 2018 — C. L. Max Nikias has agreed to step down, effective immediately, and will move into the role of President Emeritus and Life Trustee of the University. This decision follows the announcement, earlier this summer, that the Board of Trustees and President Nikias had agreed to an orderly transition and that a Special Committee of the Board would commence a search for a new president. Amongst other responsibilities, Dr. Nikias will continue to assist with the transition of the incoming president.

The Board of Trustees has appointed Wanda M. Austin as Interim President of USC.

Dr. Austin, who is a member of our Board of Trustees, is an internationally honored engineer who from 2008 to 2016 was President and CEO of The Aerospace Corporation. She is a strong advocate for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines as well as for minorities and women. Among her many accomplishments, in 2015, she was appointed by President Obama to serve on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, and in 2016, she received the Goddard Astronautics Award, one of the highest honors of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Dr. Austin currently serves on the Boards of Directors of Chevron Corporation and Amgen, and previously served on the Boards of the National Geographic Society and the Space Foundation. She earned a PhD in Industrial and Systems Engineering from the University of Southern California in 1988.

Dr. Austin’s appointment is an important and positive step forward as we approach the beginning of the semester. She is deeply committed to USC, and I know that she plans to devote time in the coming weeks to listen to the views of faculty, staff, students, and our broader community on what is needed to successfully move us into our next chapter. With her significant executive leadership experience and steady hand, Dr. Austin is an ideal person to steer the University on a clear path forward as we advance our ambitious initiatives, until a permanent president is named. She is a professional of impeccable integrity and character.

The Board of Trustees has retained Isaacson Miller, one of the nation’s most accomplished education recruitment firms with deep experience at the highest levels of academia. They will be joined by international search firm Heidrick & Struggles, who will serve in an advisory capacity to ensure we evaluate the broadest landscape of world-class leaders.

Message regarding Independent Investigation and Presidential Transition (May 31, 2018)