University of Southern California President CL Max Nikias stepped down Tuesday in the wake of a sex-abuse scandal involving a campus gynecologist in which school administrators faced criticism they ignored decades of complaints. Nikias had been president since 2010; his $3 million in pay, bonuses, and benefits in 2015 made him one of America's best-paid academic honchos, per the Los Angeles Times. He has agreed to relinquish his role "effective immediately," but becomes president emeritus and a life trustee of the school, according to a letter to faculty, students, and alumni from Board of Trustees Chair Rick J. Caruso, who said trustees hope to find Nikias' successor within four to six months. Wanda M. Austin, who is a board member and the former CEO of Aerospace Corp., was appointed interim president, reports the AP.
Nikias, 65, agreed in May to step down at an unspecified date. He and the school faced accusations that they ignored decades of complaints against Dr. George Tyndall, a gynecologist who worked at a university clinic for 30 years. Tyndall, who has since retired, is the focus of some two dozen lawsuits and a police investigation into allegations involving at least 50 women. The lawsuits allege Tyndall routinely made crude comments, took inappropriate photographs, and forced plaintiffs to strip naked and groped them under the guise of medical treatment. Nikias also came under fire after reports that USC medical school dean Dr. Carmen Puliafito associated with criminals and people who used drugs and had been captured on video apparently smoking meth.