New president takes reins at scandal-plagued USC

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Veteran academic leader Carol L. Folt was formally installed Friday as the 12th president of the University of Southern California, taking the reins of the institution snared in unfolding scandals involving allegations of sex abuse, drug use and bribery.

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Folt was presented a medallion representing the authority of the office during a ceremony and said in her inaugural address that there was a need for urgent and decisive action on "serious issues" that have yet to be resolved.

"These are problems that have harmed our reputation and have taken a real toll on the Trojan community," she said, adding that she was aware of the anxiety that many people are feeling.

"They're worried that unless resolved quickly these issues could undo much that has been built over the recent years and taint those unconnected to them," she said. "I want to assure you that we will continue to tackle these problems until they are corrected."

Folt took over from interim President Wanda Austin, who stepped in after former President C.L. Max Nikias resigned last summer.

Nikias left amid reports that USC ignored widespread complaints of sexual misconduct by a longtime campus gynecologist who now faces criminal charges and an investigation into a medical school dean accused of smoking methamphetamine with a woman who overdosed.

USC subsequently emerged as one of the high-profile universities across the nation snared in an admissions scandal in which dozens of wealthy parents have been accused of paying bribes to rig their children's SAT and ACT scores or get them admitted as recruited athletes to elite schools.

Defendants still contesting the allegations include "Full House" actress Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, who are accused of paying to get their two daughters into USC as fake athletes on the crew team.

Folt previously led the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and had leadership roles at Dartmouth College.