I want to extend a warm welcome to our USC families for Trojan Family Weekend. We have almost 6,000 parents, grandparents and siblings registered for the weekend – this is a new USC record!
It brings me great joy to see you all here visiting a campus that is decked out to welcome you as you see your students in their campus home – seeing and experiencing USC as they do.
We are enormously proud of our students. They come from every state and from 55 countries. They are inquisitive, capable, driven and ambitious.
In addition, our incoming class is our most-selective, highest-achieving, and most-diverse ever. The future of USC is bright thanks to your children.
Our students come to USC to learn, to expand their minds, and to make that transition from the dependence of childhood to the independence of adulthood.
Our programs are designed to enable this process. The faculty purposefully design educational programs to share wisdom of the ages and expose students to the challenges and opportunities presented by ideas at the leading edge.
Student Affairs creates programs to weave around education to ensure that we provide opportunities to explore leadership, discover lifelong passions, have spaces where they culturally comfortable and to create areas where they can learn and be stretched.
Families, your students are at USC at an unusual time. After two disrupted years, they are back on campus, attending classes in person and enjoying each other and the campus. We are able to do this because we have built a safe environment.
We have a strict vaccine policy – requiring a vaccine or religious or medical exemption; 94% of the faculty students and staff are fully vaccinated. As you know, we have extensive testing requirements and a host of other safety precautions, including a daily TrojanCheck app that everyone needs to pass every day to access campus
We can see signs that our positivity rate is falling and is less than 0.2% in our population. We are conducting 8,000-9,000 tests a day.
This is possible because students really want to be here. They do not want to return to pandemic lockdown. They understand the seriousness of the situation. And we are proud and excited to all be here together.
Our students are also back from a sometimes lonely, isolated experience. In some cases, this has brought with it a heightened senses of anxiety and sometimes even depression. Mental health of our students is a high priority for the university. Student Affairs, Student Health and each school have programs to address the needs of students and I encourage your students to seek advice and support.
At USC we aspire to develop human beings and society as a whole through the cultivation and enrichment of the human mind and spirit. We do this through teaching, research, artistic creation, professional practice and public service.
This process is intellectually challenging – we expect the debates to be civil but the intensity of the discussions can be high. Part of what we teach and the environment we create is how to hold these discussions in ways where ideas and opinions can be heard.
In a time of rapid social change as we emerge from a pandemic where the disparities in our society were highlighted, these debates can be intense.
We hold ourselves and our community members accountable for ensuring the intellectual environment is welcoming but we expect it to be challenging.
The opportunities ahead to explore and learn are astonishing. Over the weekend we are offering a series of events to expose you to some of these same opportunities. Please explore and enjoy.
We hope you’ll join us for events all weekend – we have over 150 sessions and activities for families to choose from. They are all listed in the mobile app and website https://bit.ly/3BpBcI9. And, as we say at USC: Fight On!
–Charles F. Zukoski, October 8, 2021