Hitting the ground running

Prof. Camille Rich instructs our 2018 cohort of Warrior-Scholars (USC Photo/Josh Byun)
Prof. Camille Rich instructs our 2018 cohort of Warrior-Scholars (USC Photo/Josh Byun)

Welcome back to USC for what will be an exciting and engaging semester. We’ve all already hit the ground running.

The Warrior-Scholar Project wrapped up a week of academic boot camp for active service members and veterans to prepare them for the rigors of a top-tier university. It’s a grueling week for them but a pleasure for us to host them on campus. We’re the only university on the west coast to do so.

Senior leadership met with our new interim president Wanda Austin to discuss the upcoming semester and our efforts to change and move forward. Those sessions were productive and frank.

On Wednesday, I attended the Academic Senate’s Annual Planning retreat, where both Dr. Austin and I spoke. The Senate discussed shared governance and I found the discussion to be open and sincere.

Later in the day, I welcomed incoming first-generation students and their families at Dornsife’s First in the Family and Guardian Reception. We have over 1,200 incoming first-generation freshman – 16% of our incoming class – and I was happy to share my own experience. As I told them, I believe we’re scrappy people who figure things out and know how to make the best of life. Our incoming cohort honors us by choosing to study here. The program included panelists and resources tailored for first-gen students, including a website hosted by Dornsife that provides a wonderful list of USC faculty and staff who were themselves the first in their families to go to college.

Also on Wednesday, we opened our first housing complex dedicated to student-veterans. See this story from CBSLA’s Lisa Sigell featuring Vice Provost Mark Todd and two of our student-veterans, Brandon Wexler and Tony Pham. Six news outlets came to cover this achievement as we continue the work of supporting this community.

On Thursday, as you know, we held our Fall 2018 Convocation Ceremony. Dr. Austin addressed our students, celebrating their achievements and challenging them to push themselves in the years ahead. She also encouraged us as a university community to work together to “embrace the changes that make us stronger.”

I was pleased on Thursday night to welcome our students to SPARK! The 13th Annual Visions and Voices Kickoff, a night featuring dance and poetry performances wholly centered on social justice. Visions and Voices is among my favorite things we do on this campus – it’s a privilege to support these wide-ranging and fascinating events.

I wanted to share this brief snapshot of these last few days because I’m enthusiastic about everything going on as we take off into the new academic year. I’m looking forward to continuing our important work together as we challenge each other, support each other, and work toward a better future.


– Michael W. Quick, August 17, 2018