Letter from President Nikias to the USC Community, May 18, 2018
Dear USC community,
I want to share with you my thoughts on what has taken place the last few days and acknowledge the distress we have all experienced. The reports about the behavior of the former student health center physician are deeply painful for all of us. I have personally asked to read the student reports (with names redacted) that came into the hotline within the last several days, and was profoundly affected by the details of the patients’ accounts. I have passed many difficult hours, and carry these new revelations very heavily. But this cannot be compared to the feelings of our student patients, and our full compassion rests with them.
The former physician’s behavior distresses us deeply. He should have been removed and referred to the authorities years ago. I am struggling with the question—as you are: how could this behavior have gone on for so long? Once again, I want to personally apologize to any student who visited our student health center and was made to feel uncomfortable in any way. You deserved better, and we let you down.
As of today, we have received approximately 200 reports from patients to our hotline and website, of which approximately 50 percent were anonymous. Trained staff members are individually assessing each report, and, when appropriate, referring it for investigation. We are reaching out to each individual on a case-by-case basis, and offering personalized support and counseling. We are in contact with the Los Angeles Police Department, and are establishing a process for sharing the appropriate cases, with the consent of the patients.
We want to reiterate to our wider community: Over the past two years we have made significant changes at our student health center to ensure the highest quality of care. Our student health center has come under new leadership, and has been placed under the auspices of our academic medical center.
My senior leadership team and I are working around the clock to make certain that all reports are handled with sensitivity and diligence, but also that we take every step possible to understand how this happened, and to uphold the wellbeing of our community, including holding individuals accountable as appropriate. We owe nothing less to those affected and to all members of our Trojan Family.