Trojan Together Again: Fall 2021

Students from Kaufman school of dance react to their introduction during new student convocation, August 19, 2021.

Greetings Trojan Family,

USC is once again bursting with life. Everywhere you look, students are brimming with excitement to be back living and learning on campus.

I am filled with gratitude. Gratitude for the incredible medical, health care, student services, and administrative staff who helped us reopen safely and securely.

Gratitude for our extraordinary faculty, academic, and technical staff who have adapted daily over these long months and have returned energized and excited to interact once again with students face to face.

And gratitude for our amazing student body – a passionate, richly diverse, and academically talented group of individuals.

As I looked out at the sea of faces at New Student Convocation, I saw our chance to begin anew. After 18 months of isolation and collective trauma, the simple act of gathering together on campus was a gift.

I shared with our new Trojans a term used by world-renowned musician Yo-Yo Ma – a “beginner’s mind.” I was struck by it when I listened to his recent audiobook.

A beginner’s mind is open to questions, new connections, and explorations leading to unexpected answers. It’s a mindset that allows us to start fresh in life, every day. If you cultivate a beginner’s mind, you will approach each new experience with wonder and excitement and be able to refocus and get back up when you fall. A beginner’s mind will help you keep fighting for the things you believe in and the world you want to create.

It’s a powerful way of thinking that I hope speaks to each of you, no matter where you are in your life.

Being open and flexible will be key to navigating a fall semester that will undoubtedly be very different from those in the past. Beyond the additional health and safety protocols, people will be returning after months of being home with families and enduring myriad hardships and stress.

It’s never been more important for us to look out for one another and to be a good neighbor and colleague. Treat each other with respect and lend a hand when one is needed.

We are a community nearly 80,000 strong with differing world views, struggles, and life experiences. And what makes our Trojan community so powerful is the deep connection we have to USC, to each other, and to our neighboring communities. As we begin a new academic year, lean on this community, relish the time spent with colleagues and friends, and treasure the gift of knowing someone always has your back.

In closing, I continue to be inspired by USC faculty, staff, students, and alumni who are taking on today’s grand challenges. The stories below feature Trojans pushing new frontiers in artificial intelligence, making aviation more sustainable, providing street medicine to the homeless, winning Olympic medals, and so much more. I hope you will take the time to click through them.

Here’s to a terrific academic year!

Be well, stay safe, and Fight On!

Carol L. Folt

USC school flags paraded near Bovard during Convocation 2021.


  • Students, faculty and staff are back
  • Safety protocols put in place, and more
USC's gold medal winning olympians from Tokyo 2020


  • Athletes lead universities in gold medals
  • Allyson Felix breaks medal record, and more  
Grace Ryu, left, and Linda Truong


  • Staff start new association
  • Honors, collaborative research, and more


  • Chief sustainability officer joins USC
  • Deans take the lead at three schools, and more


  • Changes in public safety
  • Encouraging vaccination, and more