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USC President Carol Folt’s contract is renewed, but university won’t say for how long

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USC President Carol Folt, who calmed the scandal-rocked university, boosted athletics and expanded student access — but also drew heavy criticism for her handling of pro-Palestinian protests this spring — has received an extension to her five-year contract, the university confirmed Tuesday.

USC would not disclose the terms of the contract extension, including its length or any amendments made. It was unclear whether the extension was short-term while the Board of Trustees conducts a thorough review on whether to offer Folt a longer-term contract.

“President Folt’s contract remains in full force,” a university statement said Tuesday. “Like all university officers, the president is subject to annual review and reappointment, which occurred this last spring. The Board remains pleased with the university’s strong direction under President Folt’s leadership.”

Folt, 72, took the helm on July 1, 2019, with a contract that compensated her at the same level as former president Max Nikias, according to Rick Caruso, USC board chairman at the time. He said then that he expected Folt to serve for at least a decade.

Folt was hired with an overriding mandate to restore trust in the university, which had been rocked by one scandal after another. She replaced key administrators, brokered a $1-billion settlement with alumnae victimized by a sexually abusive gynecologist and authorized the removal of the name of an antisemitic, eugenics-supporting former USC president from an iconic campus building.

The first woman to lead USC since its 1880 founding, Folt also worked to open access to more low-income, first-generation and underrepresented students of color. In one of her most highly touted initiatives, Folt directed USC to eliminate tuition for families earning $80,000 or less annually and no longer consider home equity in financial aid calculations. The estimated annual cost of attendance for 2024-25 is $95,225 for students living away from their families.

She drew national attention for prominent moves to reshape USC’s athletics program. That included hiring a nationally renowned head football coach, Lincoln Riley, on a $10-million annual contract — one of the highest salaries in the sport — along with heavy investment in new and improved athletic facilities and the landscape-altering move to the Big Ten that ultimately resulted in the demise of the Pac-12 Conference.

But those actions were overshadowed this spring by enormous controversy over her handling of pro-Palestinian protests.

In particular, her decision to rescind pro-Palestinian valedictorian Asna Tabassum’s speaking slot in USC’s main commencement ceremony drew widespread outrage. Folt justified the decision by citing unspecified safety threats.

The turmoil escalated when Folt canceled the “main stage” commencement ceremony, depriving students and their families of a treasured ritual. Folt and her team called in police to dismantle a tent encampment that students set up in support of Palestinians, leading to 93 arrests.

She made no public remarks for two weeks, drawing criticism that she was missing in action during the most explosive issue of her tenure.

Such actions cost Folt key faculty support. In May, the USC Academic Senate voted to censure her and Provost Andrew Guzman over their handling of events around commencement. Among the senate’s 44 members, who represent about 4,500 faculty, 21 supported the censure motion, seven opposed and six abstained.

William Tierney, a university professor emeritus at USC’s Rossier School of Education and an expert on university administration and governance, said Folt’s handling of the protests was a “total failure” and said the university needed a new leader able to navigate such issues without her “head in the sand” approach.

Although he gave Folt credit for bringing presidential leadership at a “vexxed time” of serial scandals, he became soured by her pivot to sports boosterism. He is also critical about what he sees as a lack of the fundraising prowess of previous presidents, who enabled the financial largesse for ambitious academic and research enterprises — including poaching two star brain researchers from UCLA.

USC should reprioritize the pursuit of top donors — as Johns Hopkins University did in landing $1 billion from Bloomberg Philanthropies for tuition-free medical education for most students — rather than top football coaches, Tierney said.

“We are not a football university,” he said. “We have faculty aspiring to change the world. I don’t see the president providing the intellectual or financial leadership in that way.

“When I look to what USC aspires to do in the next five years,” he said, “I don’t think it’s with Carol Folt.”

Anna Krylov, a chemistry professor, said she was “neutral” on whether Folt should be granted a long-term contract renewal. She said she appreciated Folt’s takedown of the pro-Palestinian encampment, which she said fed rabid antisemitism. But Folt and campus leadership had not done enough to combat antisemitism in general, which had become “serious and pervasive” in recent years, she said.

Krylov also said Folt focused too much energy on the “wrong issues,” including what she called performative efforts to promote diversity, equity and inclusion. Like Tierney, Krylov said USC leadership needed to focus more on its core mission of education and research.

Folt’s supporters, however, noted that the president had created a new school of advanced computing and boosted mental health services. She also presided over a record number of applicants — 82,000 for fall 2024 — driving down the admission rate to 9.3%, a record low. Admitted students, one-fifth of them the first in their families to attend college, had an average 3.89 GPA.

Within her first six months as president in 2019, Folt set out to reshape USC’s athletic department. She replaced Lynn Swann, a Trojan football hero who resigned as athletic director that September, with Mike Bohn, the first outsider to helm USC athletics in a quarter century.

But Bohn resigned abruptly last May after The Times sent questions to him and USC regarding his conduct as athletic director and management of the department. In his place, Folt hired Jennifer Cohen, the university’s first-ever female athletic director.

Earlier this year, USC began construction on a state-of-the-art football performance center that’s just one of several capital facilities projects currently in the works.



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Philadelphia shooting at big block party leaves 3 dead, 7 injured

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A mass shooting of 10 people in West Philadelphia early Sunday morning has resulted in three deaths, according to local reports.

The shooting, possibly at a block party with more than 100 people, happened in the 1200 block of North Alden Street, FOX 29’s Steve Keeley posted to X. 

Some of the shooting victims were taken by police to the hospital, while others were driven away by neighbors.

Images from the scene show the shooting happened on a residential street.

PHILADELPHIA DEM DA SLAMMED OVER SUSPECTED OFFICER KILLER’S PUNISHMENT

Investigators at Philly mass shooting on residential street

A mass shooting of 10 people was reported in the 1200 block of North Alden Street in west Philadelphia. (WTXF)

The people killed were in their 20s and 30s, according to FOX 29. Their identities have not been released. 

Conditions of the at least seven injured range from stable to serious, but their ages and identities are not yet known. 

SUSPECT CHARGED IN SHOOTING OF PHILADELPHIA POLICE OFFICER WHO REMAINS ‘ON LIFE SUPPORT’

Philly PD Crime Scene Unit

Crime scene unit investigators with Philadelphia Police Department at the scene of a mass shooting early Sunday, July 21, 2024.  (WTXF)

Several shell casings and one weapon were found at the scene, FOX 29 reports. 

Whoever is responsible for the shooting is still on the loose. It is possible there is more than one gunman, police told FOX 29. 

Philly PD at mass shooting scene

Philadelphia police on the scene of a mass shooting in the 200 block of North Alden Street in West Philadelphia.  (WTXF)

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Fox News Digital is waiting to hear back from the police with more information. 

This is a developing story. Check back here for updates.



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Eluned Morgan considering running as Vaughan Gething;s successor

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Health Secretary Eluned Morgan is “giving serious consideration” to standing to replace Vaughan Gething as Wales’ first minister.

Welsh Labour has confirmed it will elect Mr Gething’s successor by mid September after the first minister quit on Tuesday when three ministers and his chief legal adviser all resigned following months of interparty disputes.

Ms Morgan said she was looking at “unity ticket” with fellow Senedd cabinet member Huw Irranca-Davies running as her deputy.

She told BBC Politics Wales she had “a considerable amount of support” across Labour but would not be drawn on whether she has the required six nominations to get on the ballot paper.

The party’s politicians in the Senedd have until noon on Wednesday to decide who they are backing in the leadership contest.

One of the ministers who quit on Tuesday – former Economy Secretary Jeremy Miles – is expected to run.

BBC Wales was told he already had the support of enough of his colleagues to secure his place on the ballot paper.

Supporters of Mr Gething claimed Mr Miles – whom he narrowly defeated in the last leadership race – would not be able to unite the Labour party in the Senedd .

Ms Morgan said she hoped to confirm her bid in “the next few hours or days”.

She said she had “considerable amount of support… from the different sections of the Labour party,” adding “you don’t need to belong to any particular faction” to support her.

“If I were to stand, then I would be standing on a ticket along with Huw Irranca-Davies, who was a Jeremy Miles supporter, so it would be a unity ticket.

“This is something that we are testing. There’s been a huge groundswell of support within the party for that idea.

“People want to look to the future. They want to look to the next election and they want us to refocus of delivering for the people of Wales.”



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Monterey Park teen missing after taking her bike to visit a relative

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Police are searching for a 15-year-old Monterey Park girl who disappeared Tuesday after leaving home on her bicycle.

Alison Jillian Chao left her residence in the 200 block of North Ynez Avenue in Monterey Park around 5:30 p.m. Tuesday to visit a relative’s house in the nearby city of San Gabriel, but never arrived, according to the Monterey Park Police Department. A search was initiated within hours, police said.

Signs affixed to street lights and utility poles in her neighborhood and in nearby Alhambra say Alison was wearing a blue T-shirt and black shorts and carrying a black backpack when she departed on a blue mountain bike. The posters include an image of Alison peddling away from home with her hair in a ponytail.

Police described the teen as Asian with black hair and brown eyes. She is about 5 feet 2 and weighs around 96 pounds.

According to a website dedicated to finding her, the last confirmed sighting of Alison was on Main Street in Alhambra soon after she left home Tuesday.

“The more time that goes on, the scarier it gets,” the teen’s mother, Annie Chao, told KTLA on Friday. “I haven’t slept in days, and it’s just every parent’s worst nightmare.”

Those with information should call the Monterey Park Police Department at 626-573-1311.

Times staff writer Karen Kaplan contributed to this report.





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