USC Stevens Hall opens; USC Village workers ring the Victory Bell; USC Thornton School of Music ranked among best in the nation

December 30, 2016

Niki and I hope you are having a wonderful holiday season, and send you our very best wishes for a happy new year. In recent weeks, we’ve enjoyed spending time with so many members of the Trojan Family, and having had the opportunity to feel the warmth of our community firsthand. The Thanksgiving dinner we hosted for USC students was certainly a highlight, and now we’re looking forward to the coming year, and to celebrating even more successes for the university. We wish you health and happiness in 2017!

USC Stevens Hall opens
Last month, we formally dedicated the new USC Stevens Hall for Neuroimaging, and our local NPR station marked its opening with an excellent story on the pioneering research of Professor Arthur Toga of the USC Stevens Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute. The cutting-edge center—a jewel on our rapidly-growing Health Sciences Campus, and a vital hub for advancing our understanding of the brain in health and disease—houses one of the largest collections of brain data on the planet. “The goal here is to share the wealth, the wealth in data,” Professor Toga told the reporter, when asked about the work being done in USC Stevens Hall. “Since we still have so much to learn, the more minds that are examining this data, the better off we’ll all be.”

Victory Bell sounded at USC Village
As construction on the new USC Village continues apace, we recently brought an old Trojan tradition to what-will-soon-be the newest addition to our campuses. The USC Village construction workers rang the Victory Bell, which USC has in its possession for the coming year—a special honor following our football win over UCLA. Appropriately, coach Clay Helton led the celebration, and warmly thanked 550 construction workers who are building the 15-acre development. “You’ll always be part of the Trojan Family,” Mr. Helton told the group, and the warmth was mutual. “I really felt the Trojan spirit,” said construction worker Ruben Ortiz. “I’ve always been a Trojan fan. It was great for the head coach to come out here and support our work.” We all look forward to the opening of the USC Village in August.

USC Village generates local jobs
Meanwhile, the Compton Herald highlighted the tremendous role that local workers are playing in building the USC Village. Alameda Construction, a small, minority-owned local company, helped in the recent expansion of Jefferson Boulevard, as well as the onsite concrete needs of the USC Village, having provided all of the outside concrete for the USC Galen Center more than a decade ago. Alameda Construction has hired scores of employees to build the sidewalks that connect USC Village structures, and it is particularly noteworthy that more than 50 percent of the company’s union workers live in the city of Los Angeles, thereby exceeding local hire requirements.

Thornton School of Music earns recognition
The Hollywood Reporter recently ranked our nation’s music schools, and placed the USC Thornton School of Music second on its list. In the accompanying story, the editors noted that “USC remains the go-to destination for students looking to get into the film music business.” The story went on to quote Thornton faculty member, Garry Schyman, who said, “While you have excellent programs elsewhere in the country, they cannot provide that kind of opportunity to meet, talk with and learn from professionals.”

Trojans win 126th national title
Our women’s soccer team recently captured USC’s 126th national title, defeating top-ranked West Virginia in the NCAA Women’s College Cup Final. With this win, USC becomes the first Pac-12 school to capture two NCAA women’s soccer titles, and our program stands among only four in the nation to have more than one national title. We are so proud of the extraordinary student-athletes who earned this distinction, as well as the leadership of head coach Keidane McAlpine. To these remarkable Trojans, we say: congratulations, and Fight On!

Daily Trojan story
Earlier this month, Matt Lemas, the editor-in-chief of the USC student newspaper, the Daily Trojan, interviewed me at length for a lead story. We covered a lot of ground during our meeting, and he did an exceptional job distilling important details, and presenting them in a thoughtful, compelling way. For me, it was a pleasure to spend the time with Matt, and a wonderful reminder of how truly talented our students are. He asked such sharp questions! With great pleasure, I shared the story with my relatives and friends in Cyprus and Greece.

Yours truly,

C. L. Max Nikias