Amidst the recent college admissions bribery scheme that involved USC and other prestigious universities, Dr. Carol Lynn Folt was announced Wednesday as the next USC president. Shortly after the announcement, Board of Trustees Chairman Rick Caruso shared insight on the process of the seven-month long presidential search.
In an interview with Annenberg Media, Caruso explained that the Presidential Search Advisory Committee started with 100 potential candidates and went down to three. He said the Committee, which was composed of 23 trustees and academic leaders, and aided by education recruitment firm Isaacson Miller, "decided on Folt on February 28." Caruso said almost all of the candidates were sitting presidents and that Folt was "clearly the right person at the right time."
Prior to Folt's resignation as chancellor of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USC reached out to her for an offer, according to Caruso.
He said one of the main factors that made Folt a qualified candidate was her "experience in the medical enterprise side" especially because "it is about half of the revenues of USC." According to Caruso, the university's medical enterprise needs to grow to become competitive and he believed that Folt did a good job expanding it at UNC.
Another main factor Caruso attributed was that she "has weathered a lot of storms" during her time at UNC, especially in the recent controversy over the removal of Confederate monument "Silent Sam" and her handling of the 18-year-long academic fraud amongst student athletes. He hopes that Folt's previous experiences will help USC in times of crises as it has been plagued by a series of scandals.
"[Her experience at UNC] is going to be very helpful," Caruso said. "On the athletics side she did a very good job navigating through [the situation], it was very complicated what she inherited and she got through it without, I believe, any sanctions of the NCAA. In terms of 'Silent Sam,' she made the decision for the right reason — to protect the safety of the students."
He also stated that the recent college admissions bribery scheme did not expedite the presidential search process and that "[the Committee] always had this announcement date picked."
At first, the Committee was worried that the large gap between the finalization of the presidency and the announcement date would get the name leaked. However, they didn't want to move it up due to spring break. Caruso said, "I really thought we were past the worst. We past Tyndall, we did the investigation, we were wrapping things up."
In terms of moving forward with Operation Varsity Blues scandal, Caruso said "everybody needs to be held accountable. We need to investigate it, fix the problem and move on." He also hopes that Folt will take "USC to the next level … I don't want her to be stuck in scandals for the rest of her life, we need to move forward."
Caruso said he believes Folt will take her courage and bravery to solve the issues surrounding the university.
"She's going to require [transparency]," he said. "We've talked about that — in terms of dealing with students, dealing with faculty, holding people accountable, being transparent, engaging people, so people have discussions."