We talk a great deal about the importance of our Trojan Family, and all that it means to us to be part of this large and dynamic group. Alumni are a major part, and I found it heartening to address more than 300 of them last week at the annual Alumni Leadership Conference.
As I told them, even in the toughest times, there’s a feeling of connectedness – that we are bound together to see our way through to the better times.
I was honored that the theme of this year’s conference was “Answering the Call” – the title of our 2018 Strategic Plan for the university. I explained that the plan is essentially our roadmap to being the great research university of the 21st century.
One of the most important themes in our strategic plan, and one that is woven throughout, is the fundamental importance of diversity, equity and inclusion. We simply cannot be the best place to live, learn, work, research, and teach if we aren’t a community of different perspectives and ideas.
I was joined by Andrea Hodge, Vice Provost for Undergraduate Programs, and Camille Rich, Associate Provost for Faculty and Student Initiatives in the Social Sciences, both of whom discussed their paths to USC and their work here on diversity and inclusion. Andrea, who teaches at Viterbi, said coming up as a female engineer, she had great mentors to guide her and scholarships to help her financially. She said she accepted the role of Vice Provost to give back to our first-generation students, like herself, and those who need assistance with scholarships, mentors, and role models. Camille, who teaches constitutional law at Gould, discussed the First Generation Professionals program, which she created and that we plan to replicate at other schools. She also began our highly successful Diversity and Inclusiveness Training Week in 2017, which grew from 28 to 68 sessions last year and is coming again this January. Please be on the lookout for more on that.
These are exactly the people, programs, and efforts that we need at USC. And, there are more such efforts underway in every academic unit. I will continue to highlight those throughout the year. And, while we have a way to go, I know that we will be even stronger, even more prepared to meet the challenges of our strategic plan with the combined efforts of all us — alumni definitely included.
— Michael W. Quick, September 7, 2018