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Former Chancellor Carol Folt has been selected as USC’s first female president

Carol Folt
Chancellor Carol Folt hosts "Thank You, Carolina," an opportunity for students to take a selfie with her and get a slice of pizza in the Union on Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019.

Updated at 9:42 p.m. on Wednesday

Less than two months after her departure from UNC, Carol Folt has found a new role. She was selected and approved as the University of Southern California's new president on Wednesday after a seven-month search process by the university's Presidential Search Advisory Committee. When she begins the job this summer, she will become USC's first female president.

"The committee conducted multiple day-long interviews with the semi-finalists in addition to comprehensive vetting," said Rick Caruso, the chairperson of USC's Board of Trustees, in a message to the USC community. "Through this process, it became evident that Dr. Folt is the leader who most embodies the qualities we seek and is the right person to be our president, both now and for the long term."

The Los Angeles-based university has made recent headlines for a college admissions scandal. More than 50 individuals, including four USC athletics officials and several wealthy parents of students at the school, were charged by Department of Justice prosecutors last week in a wide-ranging investigation into admissions-related bribes at prominent universities. 

Folt sent out a message to the USC community on Wednesday, saying that she is excited to begin her work getting to know the university community and shaping the direction of the university. 

"Of course, I also see that our community is deeply troubled by a number of immediate challenges," she said in the message. "I assure you that we will meet these challenges together directly, decisively, and with honesty and candor."

Folt also referenced her academic background in the state of California. She came to the state as a community college student and completed her undergraduate and masters' degrees at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a doctorate of ecology at the University of California, Davis.

Folt announced her resignation and authorized the removal of Silent Sam’s base and plaques simultaneously in a Jan. 14 email to the University community, saying that she would step down from her position in May. The Board of Governors, which was not notified of Folt's decision prior to the email, voted soon after to move her last day up to Jan. 31

Folt may be an attractive get for USC in the midst of national controversy after a tenure at UNC that included schisms over Confederate monument Silent Sam, a seven-year-long investigation into UNC's academic-athletic scandal and a federal investigation that found the University in violation of Title IX

“While I’m disappointed by the Board of Governors’ timeline, I have truly loved my almost six years at Carolina," Chancellor Carol Folt said in a statement after the BOG's Jan. 15 meeting. "Working with our students, faculty and staff has inspired me every day. It is their passion and dedication, and the generosity of our alumni and community, that drive this great University. I believe that Carolina’s next chancellor will be extremely fortunate, and I will always be proud to be a Tar Heel.” 

Folt's predecessor is Wanda Austin, who has served as USC interim president for the past nine months. Austin will return to her former position as a USC Board of Trustees member on June 30.

"These last nine months have been the most turbulent in the University’s 140-year history," Caruso wrote in his announcement of Folt's selection. "And yet, (Austin) has exhibited leadership, courage, selflessness and grace."

Editor's note: This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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