Provost search announcement and new SVP for research and innovation

January 12, 2023

Dear USC Faculty and Staff,

The spring semester is off and running – I hope you are enjoying being back in the mix with our dynamic students as much as I am.

I’m writing to share two important developments that help us advance our special mission here at USC:

  • the formation of the search committee for our next provost and senior vice president for academic affairs; and
  • the Board of Trustees’ elevation of the vice president for research position to senior vice president for research and innovation.

Provost Search

We have established an outstanding search committee that will be chaired by Professor Gaurav Sukhatme, who holds the Fletcher Jones Foundation Endowed Chair in Computer Science and is the executive vice dean of the Viterbi School of Engineering.

The committee comprises 16 distinguished members of our community, including faculty, staff, trustees, and students. Representing many backgrounds, aspirations, and experiences from across the university, Professor Sukhatme and the committee will work collaboratively to identify an accomplished and visionary academic leader with the utmost integrity.

Isaacson, Miller, a highly regarded firm, is assisting the university in the search. We have established a website, where you will find the list of committee members, the job description, updates, as well as a place to submit suggestions, ideas, and nominations.

The provost’s central role cannot be overstated, and this search will be a top priority over the coming weeks. Throughout this important process, we are committed to maintaining absolute confidentiality.

Senior Vice President for Research and Innovation

Research and innovation are core to everything we do. We have an ambitious community determined to perform at an unprecedented scale. Our goal is to address the world’s most pressing problems and provide compelling and workable solutions – ultimately changing people’s lives and improving the human condition.

The Board of Trustees recognizes the importance of groundbreaking research, and I am pleased to share the board has approved elevating the research leadership role to senior vice president for research and innovation, now reporting directly to the president. Our goal is to double USC’s research portfolio over the next decade. Our research is already flourishing, with expenditures exceeding $1 billion for the first time last year. USC is now among the top 20 institutions in the country for federally sponsored research.

In addition, the value of our proposals has increased nearly 30 percent in the last three years, rising from $2.99 billion to $3.83 billion. It is even more impressive when you consider that 43 percent of requests from our researchers are funded – one of the highest success rates in the country.

I’m also pleased to announce that our colleague Dr. Ishwar Puri has officially stepped into this new role, effective January 1. In his short time at USC, Dr. Puri has made important contributions to strengthen our research enterprise. He will now build on this strong foundation, helping us form new partnerships – between our schools, industry leaders, and peer universities across the nation – and placing USC among the best national and international research innovators.

We currently enjoy successful regional collaborations with UCLA and Caltech, and I have asked Dr. Puri to create even more with community colleges and minority-serving institutions. Our goal is to help develop a strong and diverse talent pipeline to USC in all fields.

Congratulations to Dr. Puri – I am excited for the future of our research capacity. And thank you to the members of our provost search committee for agreeing to serve. I look forward to receiving the committee’s recommendations and finding the right individual to ensure our academic excellence for years to come.

Here’s to a productive and fulfilling spring semester.


Carol L. Folt