USC celebrates Rose Bowl championship; USC Shoah Foundation honors George Lucas and Mellody Hobson; USC boasts two Rhodes Scholars this year

January 31, 2017

One month in to the new year, and at USC, we’re still smelling roses! Our last-second win against Penn State at the Rose Bowl will no doubt go into the history books as one of college football’s greatest games. And while we take tremendous pride in the win, it wasn’t just the result that mattered, but the manner in which we won. Head coach Clay Helton led a very special group of Trojans, and quarterback Sam Darnold and his teammates never gave up. It’s this determination that defines our community, and this same determination that makes us all so proud to be a part of the Trojan Family. The Los Angeles Times summed it up nicely: “(The Trojans) fought and fought and then in their final breaths they hit Penn State with a force that USC football lore will remember forever.” Indeed, we will!

USC Shoah Foundation gala
In December, the USC Shoah Foundation honored humanitarians Mellody Hobson and George Lucas for their longstanding dedication to the foundation’s mission of education and tolerance, as well as their continued support of USC. Ms. Hobson, a venerable financial expert and the president of Ariel Investments, delivered our commencement address in 2015, and Mr. Lucas—creator of the Star Wars and Indiana Jones films—stands among our university’s most illustrious graduates. The pair was lauded by celebrities such as Harrison Ford, Kerry Washington, and James Corden, and the event raised $3.5 million for the foundation. Established by USC Trustee Steven Spielberg, the foundation now houses more than 54,000 audiovisual testimonies, primarily from survivors of the Holocaust.

Lucas Museum comes to Los Angeles
As a testament to the scope of Ms. Hobson and Mr. Lucas’ philanthropic leadership, the couple recently announced their decision to locate the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art in Exposition Park, adjacent to USC. This is excellent news for Los Angeles and, of course, our university, as it will bring a vibrant, new cultural treasure to our local communities. The 275,000-square-foot museum will house Mr. Lucas’ extensive collection of fine and popular art, which includes Star Wars ephemera, such as the original Darth Vader mask, as well as works by Norman Rockwell, David Hockney, N.C. Wyeth, and R. Crumb. It promises to be a significant addition to our city’s cultural landscape!

USC boasts two Rhodes Scholars
Two USC students received prestigious Rhodes Scholarships this year: Oscar De Los Santos, a graduate of our Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, and Jung Kian Ng, a double alumnus of our Viterbi School of Engineering. These scholarships—the oldest and perhaps the most well known award for international study—provide all expenses for at least two years of study at the University of Oxford in England. “The Rhodes Scholarship program is about cultivating world leaders and, more importantly, ethical leaders,” Mr. Ng said. “It’s about fighting the world’s fight.” For his part, Mr. De Los Santos has already distinguished himself professionally: he has interned at the National Economic Council and the United States House of Representatives, and previously taught sixth graders in Phoenix, Arizona. We wish Mr. De Los Santos and Mr. Ng continued success at Oxford as they bring honor to our university!

USC Viterbi rankings
Once again, the USC Viterbi School of Engineering fared exceptionally well in U.S. News & World Report’s rankings of our nation’s best online programs. USC Viterbi ranked first among online graduate engineering programs, and first among graduate computer information technology programs. These rankings reflect the school’s outstanding online offerings, which blend academic rigor with advanced technology, ease, and convenience.

Biotech Park plans endorsed
USC’s vision for a Biotech Park near our Health Sciences Campus recently received a strong endorsement from the Los Angeles Times. 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 we need to provide opportunities for these students to remain in the area. “As it stands now,” the editorial noted, “some of the nation’s best talent in those fields is educated and trained here, but too often abandons L.A. for regions that offer more support and opportunities.”

Niki and I hope 2017 is off to a wonderful start for you and your family. We look forward to writing to you throughout the year!

Yours truly,

C. L. Max Nikias