USC ranks fifteenth on national list of universities; USC Kaufman dedicates new building; USC professor named MacArthur “genius”

October 31, 2016

Everyone at USC is still thrilled by the outstanding news we received earlier this semester: The Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education released a comprehensive ranking of top colleges and universities in the United States, and USC ranked fifteenth on their national list of public and private universities. Among California universities, only USC, Stanford, and Caltech appear in the top 15; and among 150 colleges and universities in the western United States, USC ranks third. This marks USC’s highest placement ever among such rankings, and is noteworthy because the ranking’s methodology was particularly inclusive in scope. This is excellent recognition for our Trojan Family, and reflects the longstanding dedication of our alumni and friends all over the world.

Glorya Kaufman’s vision takes flight
Earlier this month, the USC community came together to formally dedicate the majestic, new home for our Kaufman School of Dance. It was a glorious event, as our students were able to experience firsthand the remarkable passion of the school’s benefactor, USC Trustee Glorya Kaufman. “What’s tremendously important to me today is that this marvelous new center will welcome all forms of dance in a multicultural environment, where diverse young people will come together to boldly engage in innovative artistic expression,” said Mrs. Kaufman. She stands among the world’s most renowned arts philanthropists, and is a tremendous supporter of dance, education, and USC.

USC’s newest “genius”
The MacArthur Foundation recently announced the recipients of its coveted “genius” grants, and this year’s list included our longtime faculty member Josh Kun of the USC Annenberg School. This honor speaks to Professor Kun’s exceptional standing among our nation’s most imaginative cultural historians, as well as his insightful work in connecting the arts and popular culture with cross-cultural exchange. Professor Kun described the recognition as emboldening: “It really makes you feel like, ‘Oh, okay, I can do this, and I can do more… I should keep pushing in deeper ways.’” He and his groundbreaking work are a tremendous inspiration to our students.

Foshay: USC’s top feeder school
Foshay Learning Center—part of the USC Family of Schools—officially sends more students to our university than any other high school in the nation. “We are connecting with the surrounding community and building a pipeline to USC for students, especially those who are the first in their family to attend college,” Timothy Brunold, our dean of admissions, told the Los Angeles Times, which shared this news in a story that highlighted the success of our Neighborhood Academic Initiative. NAI’s director, Kim Thomas-Barrios, added: “This program changes the question from ‘Can I go to college?’ to ‘Which college am I going to go to?’”

Gender in media innovation
Professor Shrikanth Narayanan of our Viterbi School of Engineering is leading the development of the Geena Davis Inclusion Quotient software, a program that analyzes gender in entertainment, breaking down characters’ screen and speaking time for males versus females. “This is our very first (application) of our tool and its analysis,” Professor Narayanan explained. “Our bigger road map that we’ve been dreaming up is to look at different representations in media.” The Washington Post recently published a lengthy story on this pioneering innovation.

Biotech Park planned
At the start of this month, USC hosted an outreach summit on careers in biotech to promote our plans for a Biotech Park near our Health Sciences Campus. The park will provide a means for biotechnology start-ups and established companies to maintain businesses in the east Los Angeles area, and create a wide range of jobs, from administrative and technical to scientific. Each year, universities in Los Angeles County produce more than 5,000 graduates in biotechnology-related fields, and—as this revolution in technology takes hold—we need to provide opportunities for these students to remain here.

Undergraduate minors
This month, The Wall Street Journal published my op-ed on the importance of a minor course of study for undergraduates. In this piece, I discuss the numerous benefits to be gained from adding a minor, particularly one in a field that differs widely from the student’s major. A minor allows a student to develop a more diverse set of skills, and can even take her down an entirely different—and tremendously enriching—career path. This op-ed is the first in a series that I will be contributing to The Wall Street Journal.

Niki and I hope you’re enjoying the fall, as we all look ahead to the holiday season. With our best regards,

Yours truly,

C. L. Max Nikias