Transition in the Dornsife Dean’s Office

A Message to Faculty, Students, Staff and Supporters

USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

September 18, 2015

I write to share the news that Steve Kay, dean of the USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, has been named the next president of The Scripps Research Institute. Steve will remain in his present capacity until November 30, 2015.

I am grateful that executive vice dean Dani Byrd has agreed to serve as interim dean, effective December 1, 2015. Dr. Byrd has a long history of leadership within Dornsife College. Since 2007, Dr. Byrd has served in multiple positions within the Dornsife College administration — as vice dean for research advancement, vice dean for faculty and research, and vice dean for institutional affairs. In her current role, she works with her fellow vice deans to oversee strategic planning and resource management, research advancement, and faculty operations, as well as academic programs, admissions, advising and diversity. She also partners with the vice deans of humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences as it pertains to faculty recruitment, retention and advancement, and Ph.D. programs. Dr. Byrd began her career at USC as an assistant professor in the Department of Linguistics. Prior to that, she was a National Institutes of Health postdoctoral fellow and senior scientist at Haskins Laboratories. Using cutting-edge technology for tracking and imaging inside the mouth and throat during speech, Dr. Byrd’s interdisciplinary research team investigates speech production and articulation.

I am confident that Dr. Byrd’s talent and experience will provide the necessary leadership and continuity during the transition. I look forward to working closely with her, and the entire Dornsife College leadership, to advance the mission of Dornsife College during this academic year. Please join me in thanking Dani for taking on this major responsibility and supporting her in the months ahead.

Leading with enthusiasm and dedication, Dean Kay ensured the continued excellence of our institution’s oldest and most diverse academic unit over his three-year tenure. He leaves USC in a stronger position to solve some of society’s most challenging problems that ultimately serve the global public good.

Dean Kay was instrumental in the recruitment of outstanding faculty across the Dornsife College’s spectrum of disciplines, including English, philosophy, psychology, and economics. He partnered with faculty to establish leading-edge research centers such as the Center for Economic and Social Research, the Center for Self-Report Science, and the Mind and Society Center. These efforts were pivotal to realizing our vision for Dauterive Hall as a nexus for multidisciplinary, quantitative social science research. And he spearheaded our efforts in convergent sciences by establishing the Bridge@USC, an initiative uniting researchers across the university to begin constructing the first atomic-resolution structure of the human body.

In addition to creating new undergraduate majors, Dean Kay launched dozens of professional pathways courses that support students in their exploration of varied career paths. He placed emphasis on practical politics through the development of a Washington, D.C.-based academic program, which allows undergraduates to intern in our nation’s capital while completing coursework. And he was instrumental in creating new opportunities for students to conduct research across the university, working closely with our great faculty.

I am pleased that Steve will retain a faculty appointment in Dornsife College. I look forward to working with him to advance our convergence science initiative.

Please join President Nikias and me in thanking Dean Kay for his tremendous service to the Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and to the university. We have been fortunate to benefit from his leadership and wish him much success in his new role.



cc: C. L. Max Nikias

Dana Dornsife

David Dornsife

USC Dornsife Board of Councilors

Academic Senate

President’s Cabinet

Provost’s Cabinet

Academic Deans