Launching USC’s Frontiers of Computing initiative

May 4, 2023

Dear Trojan Community,

I’m excited to announce a giant leap forward with one of USC’s Presidential Moonshots for the future: Frontiers of Computing.

Planning for this $1 billion-plus, 10-year initiative began in 2019 with a lead gift of $260 million to USC thanks to the generosity of the Lord Foundation of California. With historic ties to the USC Viterbi School of Engineering and USC Marshall School of Business, this gift is already being supplemented with additional philanthropy from across the university – powering the largest comprehensive academic initiative in USC’s history.

Our unifying goal with this initiative is to create a digital backbone that embeds computational power, digital literacy, and evolving technologies into all disciplines. By enhancing pedagogy and programs in all 22 diverse schools and institutes at USC, we will prepare leaders to be digitally fluent, technologically adept, and, above all, ethically sound.

We have big plans, starting with a new School of Advanced Computing within the USC Viterbi School of Engineering. It will house a new department of computer science named for the late Thomas Lord and a new endowed chair named for the late Donald M. Alstadt, both of whom formerly served as Lord Corporation’s chairman and CEO. This school will involve faculty from across the university and will significantly increase new faculty hires.

We’re also announcingthe expansion of our Silicon Beach Campus, a new hub that will provide experiential learning opportunities with private industry partners – taking advantage of more than 500 tech companies and start-ups located nearby.

USC is putting this initiative into practice on our campuses and beyond. We will extend into the business community – creating public/private partnerships to develop entrepreneurial opportunities, spur new economic solutions, and launch new start-ups. We’re also expanding Frontiers of Computing’s scope to include our surrounding communities through educational outreach and involvement.

This is only the beginning, with so much more to come. I look forward to our schools, our centers, and our communities being a part of this bold adventure to shape the future. I encourage you to explore USC Frontiers of Computing, which is full of insights and details about our ambitious goals.

Of course, an initiative of this size relies on a team dedicated to ensuring this vision is realized. Hundreds of colleagues have collaborated on this endeavor – and I would like to express my gratitude to four of them who have been especially involved: USC Viterbi Dean Yannis Yortsos; USC Marshall Dean Geoffrey Garrett; USC Dornsife Dean Amber Miller; and Dr. Ishwar Puri, our senior vice president for research and innovation.

When I spoke with a long-time trustee of Thomas Lord’s trust, he expressed his belief that Frontiers of Computing at USC is exactly what Thomas Lord and Donald M. Alstadt hoped could be achieved with this gift.

We are indebted to the generosity of both Thomas Lord and Donald M. Alstadt and others who supported the Lord Foundation of California for many years, including Paul “Mickey” Pohl; Lt. Gen. Fred McCorkle; Rear Admiral H. Kirk Unruh; Patrick J. Finneran, Jr.; Gen. James Amos; and Edward Auslander.

A gift of this magnitude doesn’t come often to universities – but when it does, it impacts the world and provides a wellspring to change lives.


Carol L. Folt