USC Culture Journey

November 16, 2020

Dear Trojan Community,

This year has been challenging on many fronts, but I continue to be inspired by what I see around me – Trojans supporting each other, focusing on our students, caring for our patients, and partnering with our neighbors. We’re navigating so many different health, environmental, societal, racial, and economic questions right now, and it’s more clear than ever that our values – as guiding principles – will sustain us.

This past year I invited our entire community to participate in the Culture Journey and to ask “Who are we as a university?” More than 24,000 of you took the USC Values Poll or participated in culture sessions. Your insights on what it means to be a Trojan proved invaluable.

Today I am pleased to share six unifying values that emerged from these conversations, and will guide us moving forward. As Trojans we will:

Act with integrity in the pursuit of excellence. Embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion and promote well-being. Engage in open communication and be accountable for living our values.

  • Integrity: We do the right thing
  • Excellence: We bring our best selves
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: We all belong
  • Well-being: We honor the whole person
  • Open Communication: We share openly and honestly
  • Accountability: We take responsibility

When we embrace these values together, we build a culture that instills trust, reinforces ethical decision-making, and provides a strong foundation for our future. USC’s senior leadership is wholly committed to these values, and announcing them is only the beginning. We are now looking to integrate them into our university-wide systems and processes.

Here are some concrete examples of what is already underway, with more actions to come:

  • Investing in developing the professional skillsets of our leaders, faculty, staff, and students tied to ethical and values-based behaviors, mentorship, and feedback
  • Reflecting USC values in the way we assess performance and in systems governing recognition, rewards, and incentives
  • Providing clear pathways for discussing and acting on concerns without fear of retaliation
  • Alignment of values and DEI concepts into well-being programs and initiatives
  • Embedding our values into employee recruiting, hiring, onboarding, and professional development

You will soon be invited to join in university-wide culture events, workshops, and other activities centered around our values. And in spring 2021 we will launch a reimagined Code of Ethics. If you would like to receive updates on our Culture Change journey, please email

Thank you for everything you do to help make USC the best university it can be for all of us.

Fight On!

Carol L. Folt

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