USC elects new Board of Trustees chair to replace Rick Caruso

The announcement of Suzanne Nora Johnson as the new chair comes in the wake of former chair Rick Caruso’s decision to resign in order to focus on his mayoral campaign.

[A photo of Rick Caruso smiling in front of reporters.]

USC announced on Thursday that current university trustee and alumnus Suzanne Nora Johnson has been elected as the new chair of the Board of Trustees.

Nora Johnson’s election comes months after former Board of Trustees chair Rick Caruso stepped down in February to prepare to run for mayor of Los Angeles. Nora Johnson has served on the board since 1998 and is also the first woman to be elected in this position, according to the L.A. Times.

In a letter sent out to the university via email on Thursday, president Carol Folt described Nora Johnson as “an accomplished leader with decades of experience serving on the boards of our nation’s most respected institutions. She has been a dedicated alum of USC, serving more than two decades as a Trustee, and is highly respected and admired by her colleagues and all who have had the chance to interact with her.”

The message from the president also stated that this election is “a result of a thorough process developed, vetted and executed by our Board of Trustees” and that it comes at a time of “important governance reforms” for the Board.

“I am honored to serve USC and its important constituents in my new role,” Nora Johnson said in another letter sent to the university on Thursday. “Over the years, I have been privileged to get to know so many faculty and staff members, students, alumni, community members and supporters. I am looking forward to meeting many more of you.”

In her letter, Nora Johnson acknowledged president Folt’s goals for USC, or “moonshots,” that she described in her state of the university address in April. She also advocated for more oversight and high standards of ethics for herself and the rest of the Board of Trustees.

“My fellow Trustees and I pledge to hold ourselves to the highest standards of ethics and accountability as we support USC,” Nora Johnson said in the letter.

Nora Johnson graduated from USC with a bachelor’s in interdisciplinary studies with an emphasis in economics, philosophy/religion and political science in 1979, and received her law degree from Harvard, according to USC’s press release.

Nora Johnson also has a long history of serving on both philanthropic and corporate boards. She previously served as the vice chair of the Goldman Sachs Group as well as the co-chair of the Carnegie Institution for Science. Currently, she is the board chair for the financial software company Intuit Inc., and is chair of the audit committee at Pfizer.

She also has served on various committees at USC, including one that helped hire athletic director Mike Bohn.

Both Nora Johnson and Folt acknowledged former chair Rick Caruso in their letters. According to Folt, he “enthusiastically” supports Nora Johnson in this new role.

“Thanks to the legacy he built and the transformative changes he led to create a stable foundation for accountability, integrity, and oversight, we are well on our way in this exciting and ambitious new era,” Nora Johnson said in her letter.

Nora Johnson will step into this new role effective immediately, according to Folt.