State of the University Address

State of the University Address
February 2016
C. L. Max Nikias

It’s always a great privilege to deliver this annual address. As you know, our faculty is the solid foundation on which all of our successes rest, and I am very proud to report on the incredible progress that has been made. At USC we value all of our faculty, no matter what kind of appointment they hold. Each of them contributes greatly to this university’s revered reputation for academic excellence.

The majority of


Building a New Global Higher Education Model


Originally published in the Huffington Post on September 17, 2015

Recent history is littered with examples of multinational corporations meeting spectacular failure on the international stage. Too often, cultural misunderstandings of other nations’ customer bases or corporate environments cripple a company’s efforts to enter foreign marketplaces. Not only have such catastrophic missteps cost companies billions of dollars, they have impeded the flow of goods and services in our increasingly globalized world.


New Student Convocation

Delivered on August 20, 2015

Today, we induct you into the academy, and we embrace you as scholars. We have gathered here in this place at a very pivotal moment in your lives, and a very pivotal moment in this university’s history. USC today is one of the academically elite universities, drawing the attention and envy of institutions from every corner of the world.


Students at private schools need help, too


Originally published in the Sacramento Bee Op-Ed section on April 8, 2015

Over the past month, hundreds of thousands of California high school seniors have received college acceptance letters. My institution, the University of Southern California, has 2,700 freshman slots and received nearly 52,000 applications – the third most of any private university in the country.

The vast majority of those we admitted rank in the top 10 percent of their high school’s graduating class. Even as USC


Los Angeles has the right DNA to become biotech hub

By C. L. Max Nikias

Originally published in The Los Angeles Times Op-Ed section on February 25, 2015

As the Great Recession decimated U.S. job growth, one sector continued to thrive: biotechnology. Encompassing everything from medical device manufacturing to biopharmaceutical development and the latest diagnostic tools, this industry will no doubt frame humanity’s most important advances in the 21st century.

California is home to two major biotechnology hubs—San Francisco and San Diego—but Los Angeles has been left behind. The paradox is that universities


Los Angeles Biotech Summit

Delivered on February 26, 2015 at the Los Angeles Biotech Summit

Good morning everyone! On behalf of the entire USC community, I am so pleased to welcome you to the Los Angeles Biotech Summit.

Today, through several panels of prestigious researchers and leaders from academia and industry and our community, we will explore the extraordinary possibilities for expanding the development of biotech in our region.

To some, the challenges may seem great. But to many, the prospects for success are far greater. By marshaling


Annual Address to Faculty

The Value of College Education
February 2015
by C. L. Max Nikias

It is an extraordinary privilege for me to offer my annual address as president of USC. Faculty and students determine the quality of an institution. And USC stands among the most academically elite universities of the nation and the Pacific Rim. Your accomplishments define us, and they will continue to distinguish us.

But we should begin by considering an irony: In the past five years, we have advanced academically at precisely the


What will the future of education look like?

Originally published on Jan. 24, 2015 on Agenda, an online publication of the World Economic Forum.

One of the most hotly discussed topics in higher education is the role and future of online education. For the traditional university, does the emergence of online education represent a threat or an opportunity?

Like any new technology, the prospects for online education depend on where it can add value or, better yet, create it. By this measure, its greatest promise lies in continuing and executive


Why elite universities should admit more community college grads

The Washington Post, Opinion, originally published on October 23, 2014.

“The reality is that some students with the right combination of talent, creativity and personality will not begin their academic careers at a selective private university. Many won’t apply, while others simply require more time for polish or introspection. The most academically driven will hone their skills and prove themselves in a two-year program, emerging more motivated, more mature and hungrier than ever.”


The Human Health Renaissance: USC’s Duties, Dreams, and Destiny

Delivered on October 9, 2014 to the USC Health Sciences Faculty

My fellow colleagues, we irreversibly committed the entire, worldwide Trojan Family, in perpetuity, to taking a leadership role in the human health revolution. Of course, in times of change, being reasonable and conventional isn’t how you become a leader. And so all of you responded with characteristic boldness and determination.