Viterbi Dean signs on for another five-year term

Dean Yannis Yortsos has signed on to serve a second five-year term in his position as the head of the Viterbi School of Engineering.

Yortsos was appointed dean in 2005 by former university President Steven B. Sample. He had previously served a year as interim dean after his predecessor, current USC President C.L. Max Nikias, vacated the post to become the university’s provost.

The vetting process for Yortsos’ reappointment included a faculty survey, reviews by the USC Board of Councilors and consultations with school constituencies.

On board · Yannis Yortsos, who was appointed dean of the Viterbi School of Engineering in 2005, agreed to serve for another five years. - Photo courtesy of Viterbi School of Engineering News

Yortsos also submitted a 14-page memorandum of his accomplishments in the past five years as dean.

“I can’t say which is my greatest accomplishment,” Yortsos said. “My job is to create a culture and environment where people feel they are immersed in exciting research, scholarship, inspiration and discovery.”

Under his leadership, Viterbi has risen from No. 11 to No. 10 in the top 100 engineering schools worldwide in rankings determined by the annually published Academic Ranking of World Universities.

“My aspiration at this school is that every faculty member feels that they are the very best at what they do at this school,” Yortsos said. “My job is to help them do that.”

Professor Erik Johnson, an associate chair of the Sonny Astani Department, said Yortsos played a crucial part in expanding Viterbi’s role in the international engineering community.

“He’s helped expand our visibility by taking leadership of the Grand Challenges National Summit,” Johnson said.

Yortsos was a founder and chair of the summit when it was held at Duke University last year. The summit was held at USC at the beginning of October, and brought engineering’s greatest minds to Viterbi.

Yortsos also helped create the Office of Strategic Initiatives, which helped increase Viterbi’s global presence.

Efforts to expand Viterbi’s role in the global engineering community have also been a  substantial focus of Yortsos’. He spent the past few weeks in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Taipei, meeting with parents of current and future students in “Parents’ Day” receptions.

He was also promoting i-Podium, a program that allows engineering students from Beijing to interact with their USC counterparts via video conference.

Johnson said Yortsos’ dedication to the Viterbi faculty might be what made him the perfect pick for a second term. Yortsos has been part of Viterbi since 1979.

“He’s had very good relations with faculty, especially junior faculty,” Johnson said. “He’s been a part of the faculty for many years and he recognizes that the university wouldn’t be here without them.”

Stephanie Stillman, a junior majoring in biomedical engineering, said she appreciates the high quality of Viterbi faculty and resources.

“Viterbi is really involved in their students and they really want us to succeed,” Stillman said. “They know how tough engineering can be and they give us access to the resources we need to be stand-outs.”