SDA dean resigns after previous relationship with student is made public

School of Dramatic Arts Dean David Bridel has resigned from his position after a 2009 relationship with a BFA acting senior while Bridel was on SDA faculty was revealed during a town hall Wednesday with faculty, current students and alumni of the MFA in Acting program. 

In a statement to the SDA community, Provost Charles Zukoski accepted Bridel’s resignation and relayed that the University is looking further into the matter. Elizabeth Daley will take over as SDA’s interim dean in addition to her current role as dean of the School of Cinematic Arts.

“We are grateful to Dean Daley for taking on this additional role and we are confident that the School will continue on its positive trajectory,” the University said in a separate statement. 

Bridel wrote in an email to faculty that his relationship with the student — which he said lasted weeks and ended “amicably” — was characterized by an alumna at the town hall in a “grossly inaccurate” manner. 

“I fully accept, however, that my behavior in 2009 demonstrated a failure in judgment and evidence of irresponsibility,” Bridel wrote. “I apologize, profusely, for any harm I caused by my conduct in 2009. At this time, I believe that the good health of the School and its future progress will be best served by a leader whose background is not tainted in this way.”

Bridel worked as SDA’s dean for five years prior to his resignation and was on faculty for 10 years before that. In his letter to SDA faculty, Bridel lauded the School’s accomplishments in developing new initiatives and programs geared toward the Institute for Theatre & Social Change; Musical Theatre; Equity, Diversity and Inclusion; bachelor’s in theatre, acting emphasis; and Career Center. 

“I am humbled by your achievements as faculty and staff during the five years that I have been fortunate to work with you in this program,” Bridel wrote in the email. “Your expertise and courage in the pursuit of excellence are an inspiration to USC and our discipline at large. I trust that the good work will continue unabated.”

Ana Mata contributed to this report.