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Opinion

Readers React: Why can’t a university president raise billions of dollars and protect students at the same time?

USC President Max Nikias stepping down over allegations of abuse by a campus gynecologist, Los Angeles, USA - 06 May 2018
C.L. Max Nikias speaks at a May 6 ribbon-cutting ceremony at USC.
(Ziva Santop / EPA / Shutterstock )

To the editor: Why was it necessary for the success of USC’s recent $6-billion fundraising campaign to ignore students’ and nurses’ complaints about ex-USC gyncologist Dr. George Tyndall? Why did ex-President C.L. Max Nikias have to sacrifice one for the other? (“Max Nikias rightly steps down from USC, but his departure alone won’t solve the school’s problems,” editorial, May 26)

I don’t know much about the process necessary for building up a major university’s endowment, but I just don’t see the conflict between guarding against malfeasance and fundraising.

Surely there is a multitude of gynocologists who would be happy to have a job at USC’s student health clinic.

Kathi Smith, Ojai

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To the editor: The recent unhappy news from USC is not greeted with derision or joy by those of us from UCLA. The two pinnacles of success that Los Angeles has relied on for its intellectual growth, prosperity and intelligent cultural foundation are USC and UCLA.

I grew up in the shadow, almost literally, of USC, at 48th and Hoover streets. A few kids in the neighborhood went to USC, and even fewer, like me, went to UCLA, Most didn’t go to either, because their parents, like mine, could barely afford their rent.

These universities, however, gave us an achievable goal, and without them we could not have moved forward. I went on to law school and eventually returned to become the vice chancellor of UCLA in charge of its brand new capital fundraising program.

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I know that, once the current dust is brushed off, USC will have retained its place as a source of enlightenment, optimism and intellectual challenge, and next year at this time the faith will have been restored. Wait and see.

Alan Charles, Beverly Hills

The writer was UCLA vice chancellor for university relations and development from 1979 to 1995.

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To the editor: It was a proud day for our family a little more than two weeks ago when our son graduated from USC with a doctorate from the Thornton School of Music. He is a third-generation Trojan.

It was inspiring to hear Nikias speak of the pride we should all feel as members of the Trojan family. Little did we know that two short weeks later, he wouldn’t be a part of that family.

It is sad what has happened at a university that I’ve always been so proud to have attended as were my parents before me. Let’s hope we learn from the past as we move forward with a new president.

Judi D. Welch, Pacific Palisades

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To the editor: The legal definition of a trustee is a person or a member of a board given control or powers of administration of property in trust with a legal obligation to administer it solely for the purposes specified.

USC’s trustees did not do their job when they expressed confidence in Nikias. They should resign en masse.

Jayne Gordon, Santa Monica

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