After months of on-campus turmoil stemming from nationwide protests over the Israel-Hamas war and criticisms over her handling of commencement ceremonies, USC President Carol Folt will remain the university’s figurehead for the near future.

A spokesperson for the university told the Southern California News Group that Folt’s contract has been “amended and extended,” and the university’s Board of Trustees was “looking forward to her continued service.” The spokesperson declined to pinpoint the specific length of Folt’s extension.

After the Southern California News Group reported the news of Folt’s extension, the university issued a statement to the SCNG on Tuesday night with further details.

“President Folt’s contract remains in full force,” the statement read. “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 has served as USC’s president since 2019, when she was hired in the midst of the university’s involvement in the nationwide “Varsity Blues” collegiate admissions scandal. According to USC’s most recently-available tax forms, Folt was the second-highest-paid employee of the school in 2022 — behind head football coach Lincoln Riley — at $4.6 million in total compensation. It’s unclear whether the statement’s declaration her contract “remains in full force” ensures her salary will stay the same.

Folt’s contract was set to expire at the end of June, and student newspaper Annenberg Media reported Monday that she was remaining as president even after her contract had ended. Her contract had already been ratified, however, the spokesperson said, before her original five-year deal had terminated.

The spokesperson also told the SCNG that no other candidates, or external names, were interviewed by USC to replace Folt.

Under Folt’s tenure, USC has steadily grown admissions — with a record 82,000 students applying to become first-years in 2024 — and opened the university’s first new school in over a decade, the School of Advanced Computing. But her five years at USC have become a mixed bag, as Folt successfully navigated the university through the wake of Varsity Blues and the COVID-19 pandemic, but has seen the last couple years of her tenure marred by scandal and campus unrest.

A few short months after her arrival in 2019, Folt orchestrated the hire of Mike Bohn as USC’s newest athletic director, coming from Cincinnati as just the second AD in the school’s history without a previous USCconnection. The pair guided USC’s athletic department into a conference change that sent shockwaves throughout collegiate sports, announcing in 2022 that USC — along with UCLA — would leave the Pac-12 and join the Big Ten, a move that promised greater national exposure and television revenue. A year later, however, Bohn abruptly resigned amid a Los Angeles Times investigation into alleged inappropriate conduct and mismanagement of the department, a scandal Folt has still never publicly addressed even with the August hire of widely-praised Jennifer Cohen from Washington.

In April, too, Folt’s handling of growing tensions made national news after USC didn’t allow its valedictorian, Asna Tabassum, to deliver a commencement speech after reports surfaced showing criticism of Zionism on her social media. Pro-Palestinian protests, and pro- Israel counterprotests, quickly spawned across USC’s campus, leading to a massive LAPD presence and 93 protestors being arrested on April 24. As universities across the country altered their graduation celebrations in the wake of widespread protest, USC canceled its traditional main-stage commencement ceremony at Alumni Park and pivoted to a large-scale family celebration at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, which earned Folt praise by some and widespread criticism from others.

Now, Folt’s extension ensures she’ll continue to lead USC’s students into the fall after a rocky spring.

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