Rick Caruso has been elected chairman of the USC Board of Trustees, after John Mork finished his five-year term in the position. The announcement comes a week after C. L. Max Nikias agreed to step down as president of the University, and in the wake of misconduct allegations against a former USC gynecologist.
“I did not seek this position, but I assume this responsibility with humility and resolve,” Caruso said in a letter sent to the USC community. “On behalf of the Board, I pledge that we will bring accountability, responsible leadership, consistent oversight, and effective and transparent reporting practices to this campus.”
Caruso stated in his letter that he is aware of the responsibilities of the Board, and is planning to instill changes through “a more robust and active set” of checks and balances as well as more engagement and collaboration members of the University.
“I have spent time listening to faculty, students and administrative leaders across campus,” Caruso said in the letter. “I have heard their concerns and learned first-hand what they feel needs to change. I will continue to listen, and pledge that the Board will maintain open constructive dialogue with all stakeholders.”
Caruso will also continue to head the Special Committee of the Board of Trustees, which was created on May 23 to oversee an independent investigation into the former gynecologist’s behavior and the University’s failure to remove him earlier in his tenure.
Caruso announced in his letter that O’Melveny & Myers LLP will conduct the investigation under the leadership of attorneys Apalla Chopra and Steve Olsen. Chopra has had experience with representing Harvard University, Claremont McKenna College and the University of Virginia in sexual misconduct cases.
Additionally, Caruso said that the process of hiring a new president for the University will involve representatives from every member of the USC community.
“This will be an orderly, seamless, painstaking and intelligent process,” Caruso said. “This process will involve select USC constituencies such as the faculty, the administration staff, the student body, alumni, our banking and financial allies and other entities that work with the university regionally, nationally and globally.”
Provost Michael Quick said in a statement emailed to the Daily Trojan that he supports the Board’s decision to elect Caruso.
“I have every confidence in Rick Caruso’s leadership of our Board of Trustees,” Quick said. “I know that he cares deeply for this university, as we all do, and I look forward to working with him during the transition.”
Caruso said that his goals as Chair of the Board of Trustees include increasing safety, transparency and communication among students, faculty, alumni and the administration and Board of Trustees.
Caruso has served as a member of the Board since 2007. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the Marshall School of Business in 1980, and endowed the Caruso Catholic Center and Caruso Department of Otolaryngology at the University.
Caruso is currently the CEO of Caruso, a prominent real estate development company based in Los Angeles, and formerly served as the President of the Los Angeles Police Commission. In 1991, he established the Caruso Family Foundation, which provides educational opportunities and healthcare for at-risk children and their families throughout Southern California.