August 31, 2017
As our 137th class of students begins a new academic year, it arrives at a milestone moment in our university’s history, as together we celebrate a transformative addition to our University Park Campus: the USC Village. This extraordinary residential-retail project is now the home away from home for 2,500 undergraduates, spread out among eight residential colleges, covering more than 1.2 million square feet of space, all designed in our distinctive Collegiate Gothic style. The USC Village also includes a spacious fitness center, hundreds of trees and an expansive great lawn, and a wide array of popular retailers, such as Target, Trader Joe’s, and Starbucks. This creates a new center for our students to interact and build lifelong bonds, and to live alongside their faculty mentors. It also creates a vibrant, new center for our local community, as the Village brings to them sought-after restaurants and shops, as well as thousands of new jobs.
USC’s campuses have transformed in recent years, and alumni and friends always marvel at the breadth of new facilities. But this project—the largest in USC’s history and the largest in the history of south Los Angeles—inspires special pride for our Trojan Family, as just a generation ago, USC was viewed primarily as a commuter campus. The USC Village signals our transition to a truly residential university, a feat we achieved on our own land and with our own resources. But it is not a feat we achieved alone. For this landmark accomplishment, we will be forever grateful to the thousands of individuals who helped make our dream a reality, from passionate neighbors, parents, and students to visionary elected officials; from generous donors to highly imaginative architects; from alumni and ambassadors to those who physically built the very structures that now constitute the USC Village: the more than 5,400 construction workers who dedicated 2.6 million hours over nearly 900 days of construction.
Hecuba, Queen of Troy
At the heart of the USC Village is a proud new monument for our university. While Tommy Trojan heralds the spirit of Troy, and our Judge Widney statue honors USC’s chief founder, this new statue celebrates the women of Troy. For this, we chose the legendary matriarch, Hecuba, the majestic Queen of Troy. At the base of this statue—which stands 12 feet tall and weighs nearly two tons—you see six female figures: an African, Asian, Caucasian, Hispanic, Native American, and Eastern Mediterranean. Linked by a ribbon, these figures represent the remarkable diversity connecting us all across our academic community. They also represent the diversity in the wide array of academic disciplines: the humanities and the sciences, medicine and technology, the arts and the social sciences. Hecuba’s right arm is extended, warmly welcoming all of the members of our worldwide Trojan Family, as well as the friends and families of our local neighborhoods. The statue of Hecuba reflects the University of Southern California of the 21st century!
Bovard Scholars program
Over the summer, our local ABC News affiliate presented an excellent segment on USC’s Bovard Scholars program, through which the university works with keenly talented, low-income high school students as they seek admission to our nation’s top colleges. This segment focused on our summer residency, a three-week, fully funded program during which students receive personalized guidance on selecting the right colleges for them, assistance in securing financial aid, and strategies for succeeding on tests, as well as tools for maximizing resources on a college campus. In addition to this summer residency, Bovard Scholars partner with an admissions coach who mentors them during their senior year of high school.
USC’s biotech ambitions
The San Diego Union-Tribune recently published a wonderful story on USC’s growing ambitions in the area of scientific research, particularly biotechnology. The article highlighted the USC Michelson Center for Convergent Bioscience, which opens this fall and complements our longer-range plans to establish a Biotech Park near our Health Sciences Campus. Provost Michael Quick noted that USC seeks to advance innovation and expand job opportunities throughout southern California, with an eye to beyond. The research in this area would benefit a broad range of areas, from improving medical care and eliminating homelessness; from increasing collaborations with our local communities to helping our nation’s veterans and their families. To begin his article, the reporter noted: “A good university helps open minds. A great university assists in changing lives. An outstanding university helps transform society.” He pointed out that USC is focused on being an outstanding university. He’s right!
USC Verdugo Hills Hospital
USC Verdugo Hills Hospital—which became part of Keck Medicine of USC in 2013—continues to grow, improve, and strengthen its place among the leading community hospitals in the Los Angeles area. Its impressive turnaround was recently featured in the Los Angeles Times, which highlighted the leadership of chief executive Keith Hobbs. The story also noted recent additions to hospital technology, including modern robotics for sanitizing rooms and for use in minimally invasive surgeries, as well as the addition of a neonatal intensive care unit.
There is much to be proud of as we enter this new year. Niki and I are thrilled to see students and faculty back on our campuses, and look forward to writing to you throughout the year. With best regards,
C. L. Max Nikias