Previous Provosts

Charles F. Zukoski (20192022)

From October 2019 to December 2022, Charles F. Zukoski served as USC’s provost and senior vice president for academic affairs.

As an enthusiastic champion of USC faculty, he advanced collaborative, interdisciplinary, and translational research and advanced efforts to enhance the diversity of USC’s faculty. As a principled advocate for USC students, he implemented policies that supported student academic growth and prioritized student wellness as they navigated overlapping challenges.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Provost Zukoski oversaw the university’s shift of thousands of classes and tens of thousands of students to digital learning while ensuring the continued delivery of academic excellence, as well as the university’s eventual transition back to on-campus living, learning, and working.

During his tenure, he helped unveil USC’s Integrity and Accountability Code, implemented a new structure for student accountability, and advanced support for graduate and professional students. He oversaw the searches to hire ten new deans and Vice Presidents, unified oversight of the undergraduate and graduate schools, and helped to facilitate the strategic transition of USC’s five health sciences schools under the oversight of the University’s Senior Vice President for Health Affairs. Along with Athletic Director Mike Bohn, Zukoski co-chaired the Student-Athlete Experience Task Force, formed to ensure USC student-athletes reach their fullest potential and graduate well-prepared for a successful and productive life after graduation.

Dr. Charles F. Zukoski is Professor of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science and Biomedical Engineering in the Viterbi School of Engineering.

Michael W. Quick (20152019)

From April 2015 to June 2019, Michael W. Quick served as USC’s provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. He was instrumental in creating the university’s 2018 Strategic Plan: Answering the Call, which set USC on an accelerated course to become the great 21st-century research university led by values, people, impact, and transformation. He focused university efforts on expanding access to a world-class education to first-generation and underrepresented minority students, student-veterans and community college transfers. He created an “experiential equity” program to support students who need financial assistance to research, study abroad, and obtain internships. Dr. Quick allocated $50 million for projects, training and recruiting specifically related to diversity, inclusion, and equity across the university; he oversaw the creation of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Week for trainings and lectures, and he brought the Race and Equity Center to USC. He created numerous pipeline programs to encourage more diverse candidates to USC in undergraduate and graduate education. He encouraged and rewarded excellent teaching. Dr. Quick spearheaded improved campus wellness efforts, including the formation of the Office of Campus Well-being and Crisis Intervention, and a new first-year undergraduate class called “Thrive.” He pushed USC to be a leader in attacking the so-called wicked problems of society – including homelessness, security and sustainability, and global migration. He backed arts for social change programs that led to increased community partnerships, and he supported fellowships for international artists.

Dr. Michael W. Quick is Provost Emeritus and Professor of Biological Sciences in the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

Elizabeth Garrett (2010 – 2014)

Elizabeth Garrett was appointed provost and senior vice president for academic affairs on October 28, 2010. As provost, Garrett directed substantial new efforts to hire transformative faculty members –  including initiatives to recruit faculty in neuroscience, the humanities, and the social sciences – with the goal of catalyzing targeted fields of scholarship and invigorating USC’s research environment. She also accelerated the recruitment of Provost Professors and created the Provost’s Postdoctoral Scholars Program in the Humanities. Under Garrett’s guidance, the USC Strategic Vision: Matching Deeds to Ambitions was developed over two years and adopted by the USC Board of Trustees in December 2011. She was instrumental in continuing the integration of the new Keck Hospitals of USC and the faculty practice plans into the university, which created an academic medical center on the Health Sciences Campus. Garrett was the Frances R. and John J. Duggan Professor in the USC Gould School of Law. In addition to this primary faculty appointment, she held joint appointments in USC Dornsife College, the USC Price School of Public Policy, and the USC Marshall School of Business, as well as a courtesy appointment in the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

Garrett subsequently served as the 13th president of Cornell University. She was the first woman to serve as Cornell’s president.

C. L. Max Nikias (2005 – 2010)

From June 2005 to August 2010, USC President Emeritus C. L. Max Nikias served as USC’s provost and chief academic officer, during which time he was charged with accelerating the academic momentum that USC had experienced in previous years. He was instrumental in bringing USC trustee Steven Spielberg’s Shoah Foundation Institute and its vast video archive of 55,000 testimonies of Holocaust survivors to USC. Dr. Nikias also established the university’s Edward R. Roybal Institute on Aging, Stevens Center for Innovation, U.S.-China Institute, and Levan Institute for Humanities and Ethics. He launched Visions and Voices, USC’s acclaimed campus-wide arts and humanities initiative, as well as a grant program to advance scholarship in the humanities and social sciences. Dr. Nikias spearheaded the integration of the Keck School of Medicine of USC’s faculty practice plans, oversaw the transfer of University Hospital and USC Norris Cancer Hospital from Tenet Healthcare Corporation to the university, and recruited a new leadership team for USC’s medical enterprise.

C. L. Max Nikias served as the eleventh president of the University of Southern California from August 3, 2010 to August 7, 2018.

Lloyd Armstrong (1993 – 2005)

Lloyd Armstrong is the recipient of USC’s highest honor, the Presidential Medallion. USC’s provost emeritus, he served as the university’s chief academic officer from 1993 to 2005. During that time, he was the driving force behind USC’s dramatic rise in various national rankings. His accomplishments include the overhaul of the core undergraduate curriculum and the university’s student-recruitment program, as well as the creation and implementation of the 1994 Strategic Plan and its 1998 update – all of which helped transform USC into one of the most selective universities in the country. A physicist who earned his Ph.D. from UC Berkeley before becoming dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at Johns Hopkins University, Dr. Armstrong joined the Rossier School’s Pullias Center for Higher Education as an affiliated professor focusing on issues of university leadership, knowledge production and change.

Cornelius J. Pings (1981 – 1993)

Cornelius J. Pings was USC’s provost and senior vice president for academic affairs from 1981 to 1993. In his position, he oversaw the academic and research programs in the university’s schools and libraries, as well as student affairs and community and governmental relations. In 1993, Pings was awarded USC’s highest honor, the Presidential Medallion, for “his years of insightful and dedicated leadership that have left an enduring mark on the academic life of USC.” That same year, he became president of the Association of American Universities, a group based in Washington, D.C. that represents the nation’s 60 major research universities. From 1987 to 1989, Pings headed an ad hoc committee for the association that undertook a major review of the indirect costs associated with federal support of research on university campuses. Pings also served on three National Research Council committees that addressed topics such as the management of research on the International Space Station and the teaching of undergraduate science and mathematics.