Fostering Our Diverse Community

Message to USC Faculty

From: Michael W. Quick, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

November 1, 2018

Among the most important challenges facing higher education is addressing historic, systemic inequities as we work to build more diverse and inclusive university communities. USC’s 2018 Strategic Plan commits us to Embracing the Inclusive Spirit, instilling the value of listening to distinct voices, and modeling the 21st century for our students, community, nation, and world.

Thanks to the advocacy and support of USC’s faculty, staff, and students, and thanks to the ongoing work of the Academic Senate, we have made steady, significant progress toward creating an inclusive campus climate. Prioritizing diversity, equity, and inclusion are – and have been – among my main goals as provost, and I am proud that we are firmly committed to this.

Our work is far from over. Today, I am announcing our next steps.

First, we will allocate $50 million in new funds to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion across our university.  This will be a joint effort between my office and the schools and schools will be able to request dollar-to-dollar match on the funding they will provide for this important endeavor. These funds will be used to hire and retain world-class tenure-track faculty and extraordinary RTPC faculty. The funds will also be used to grow our pipeline programs that support postdoctoral fellows and their transition to USC faculty members.

Second, we will create a Center for Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion (CEDI), which will serve as the focal point for our efforts in recruiting and retaining diverse faculty and developing sustainable institutional initiatives. We will conduct a national search for the director.  We will consult with the Provost’s Diversity and Inclusion Council, the Academic Senate, and other leaders on campus to determine the center’s specific mission, but it will likely serve as the primary entity overseeing and coordinating campus diversity, equity, and inclusion programs and initiatives, and provide professional development training and support for faculty, hiring managers, search committees, and new leaders.

Over the past few years, we have allocated significant resources to multiple programs and initiatives, led by our dedicated faculty and staff. Please see the attachment for a listing of some of our efforts across campus to work toward prioritizing diversity, equity, and inclusion in all that we do.

As an institution, we have committed to leading locally and globally through our values and through our people. The steps I have announced today are intended to deepen this commitment.

As always, I welcome your feedback at

Cc: Wanda Austin
Academic Senate
Academic Deans
President’s Cabinet
Provost’s Cabinet

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: A Sampling of USC Efforts

USC Race and Equity Center, opened July 2017, is a research and organizational improvement center that helps educational institutions, and others, to develop and achieve goals around diversity, inclusion and equity; it offers climate surveys to higher education institutions and equity institutes at our schools.

Provost’s Diversity and Inclusion Council is comprised of faculty, staff, and students and provides a cross-section of valuable perspectives that inform our decisions. Every school has appointed Diversity Liaisons to support our efforts and to help compile Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plans for their schools.

Faculty diversity recruitment advisors are included in faculty search committees in each school. Implicit bias and inclusive recruitment training also is in place for faculty searches.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Awareness Week, held for the third year, January 14-19, 2019, will offer outlets for discussion, training and exercises for faculty, staff, and students, including new perspectives on addressing diversity and inclusion in various contexts.

Diversity and Inclusion research awards are given in recognition that diversity in research enhances the collaborative process and contributes to transformative scholarship. The James H. Zumberge Faculty Research and Innovation Fund is one of these. More broadly, diversity and inclusion criteria is included in teaching and mentoring resources and awards.

Campus Climate Committee, comprised of members of the Academic Senate, is charged with identifying, and sharing with the Senate, effective approaches to cultivating a culture of equity, inclusivity and respect that enhance faculty success.

Graduate Initiative for Diversity, Inclusion, and Access builds the pool of diverse Ph.D. applicants by providing academic and financial support and professional development opportunities.

Wicked Problems Practicums, created by faculty, are interdisciplinary programs that invite graduate students to create think-tanks partnering with community and government agencies to address the most pressing challenges of our century.

Graduate School’s External Fellowship Boot Camp helps our students, almost half of whom are underrepresented minorities, achieve success in the NSF Graduate Research Fellowships Program (GRFP) and Ford Fellowships at much higher rates than the national average.

DIA JumpStart Summer Research Program for Undergraduates works with USC Ph.D. programs to bring diverse undergraduate candidates to campus for summer research opportunities.

Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship identifies, supports, and mentors highly qualified underrepresented undergraduate students and other students interested in diversifying faculties in higher education.

Norman Topping Student Aid Fund, established by students in 1972, offers a supportive community in addition to supplemental scholarships, with our neighbors and first-generation students receiving primary consideration.

College/University Access, such as the Leslie and William McMorrow Neighborhood Academic Initiative, Bovard Scholars, the Provost’s Pre-College Summer Scholarship for Military High School Students, and the Warrior Scholar Project all provide support and college prep for traditionally underserved communities. Our admissions team partners with the nonprofit Questbridge, which connects us to high-achieving, low-income students who may not otherwise consider USC. Bridging the Gaps, a summer program for underrepresented minority college students, provides research and clinical summer programs at the Keck School of Medicine for those who want to pursue a career in medicine or biological sciences.