A Message from President Folt

June 30, 2020

Dear Trojan Community,

I am deeply moved and saddened by the many devastating stories and experiences of anti-Black racism at USC that our students and alumni are posting. It takes great courage and strength to share these stories publicly, and as President, I apologize for the pain you have suffered here.

I promise to keep listening to you, and to commit not just myself, but USC, to making lasting change to put an end to anti-Black and systemic racism.

Today, I am announcing new, additional actions to be led by Provost Professor Shaun Harper and researchers from the USC Race and Equity Center, in collaboration with Provost Charles Zukoski; our Senior Vice President for Human Resources, Felicia Washington; and our Vice President for Student Affairs, Winston Crisp.

These actions will supplement other ongoing initiatives, including the development of unconscious bias training and the work of the Campus Culture Commission, as well as partnering with the diversity liaisons and the schools and units across USC. 

  1. Interviews and community recommendations: Over the next four months, the USC Race and Equity Center will hold focus group interviews with Black students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Our aim is to hear more about racialized experiences from Black members of the Trojan Family. We will see their findings and recommendations by mid-fall semester.
  2. Public forums: There will be five public forums this fall and spring, one each for Black undergraduates, Black graduate students, Black staff, Black faculty, and Black alumni. They will be supplemented by panelists and audience participation.
  3. Surveys of our entire community: We will use the highly-regarded quantitative National Assessment of Collegiate Campus Climates (NACCC), designed by the USC Race and Equity Center, to hear from all USC undergraduates this fall. Since our campus participated in the earliest pilot of the NACCC three years ago, it has developed, and has been used to survey over 500,000 students across the United States. In 2021, there will be racial climate surveys for all USC faculty and staff. We need to know how every racial/ethnic group uniquely experiences our campus climate.
  4. Multi-year professional learning opportunities: The USC Race and Equity Center will provide no-cost, multiyear professional learning experiences focused on equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) for USC employees. Each month, the Center will offer live, synchronous sessions through a virtual platform, accommodating up to 10,000 employees at once. Within two hours, we will post videos from each live session to a password-protected website that will be permanently available to all USC employees. Readings and other resources will accompany the videos. The sessions in the first year will focus on aspects of racial equity. Other EDI topics will be covered in later years.

We know that it is easy to say we are going to change, and that actions will fail unless they are strategic, realistic, committed, and tenacious, with ongoing learning, broad participation, and modification to meet the goals.

Dismantling racism is the responsibility of our time, and I am honored to walk this path with you.


Carol L. Folt

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