New facilities show university’s progress

Anyone of the opinion that USC is too rooted in tradition, campus pride and old money to be open to substantive changes in our university makeup just got a reality check.

Jovanna Tosello | Daily Trojan

On Oct. 30, two major improvements paved the road for 21st century innovation in the President C. L. Max Nikias era.

The university announced plans for the construction of another facility here on campus — the new $70-million athletic building for student-athletes and their coaches.

Another building was opened by the USC Institute for Creative Technologies in Playa Vista, Calif., which showcases the latest technology intended  to support military training, mental health treatment and movie special effects.

As different as these facilities are in infrastructure, organization and the type of people they seek to attract, both buildings will embody of USC’s expansion in coming years.

From academic and athletic prowess to research and development to service in our communities, USC has always demanded excellence from every cornerstone of the university.

We are answering the call by choosing to lead that change — a change that is not only necessary for the university’s continued success but also fundamental in learning what makes this institution great in the first place.

We have the rare capacity to adjust our agenda to meet the needs of today’s students while remaining rooted in the Trojan principles of service and integrity.

Nikias said that the new ICT building “represents USC at its very best.”

“As a university, we truly shine in the area of applied research. We focus on solving societal problems. We concentrate on improving people’s lives,” Nikias said.

This is our long-standing mission at work, though years ago this convergence might not have seemed feasible. But ICT, growing from a few researchers a decade ago to a staff of 200, is now combining different areas of study under one roof — and using the latest technology to do it.

From teaching special skills to soldiers, to clinical training and utilizing visual effects for motion pictures, the ICT building will employ professionals from diverse fields such as the U.S. Army and the entertainment industry.

USC has never been hesitant to combine otherwise disparate fields of study.

In fact, it embraces the challenge of uniting them so that students might learn from one another, exchange ideas with firm conviction and build upon their passion for research — together.

After all, we now live in a world where contrary industries now must put their heads together to find solutions to society’s most pressing problems. Our education should reflect that environment so that we can be better prepared for the convergent world that soon awaits us.

The long-overdue athletic building sends a similar message of preparing our student-athletes for a world of competition — both on and off the field.

Some might see the new facility as another excuse to pamper student-athletes with a new 32,000 square-foot weight room, an 18,000 square-foot athletic training room, new locker rooms and lavish lounges.

But that’s only one side of the story. University leaders, including Athletic Director Pat Haden, see the need for combining success in athletics and academics in one cohesive facility.

In the interest of merging a passion for sports with a passion for intellectual growth, Haden announced that the ground level of the new building will be the Student-Athlete Academic Services center.

It’s understandable why Haden, a former Rhodes Scholar and USC student-athlete, made this such a priority. A carefully designed facility can help integrate the culture of USC athletics into the university’s vibrant academic atmosphere — where the best of both worlds complement each other’s success.

“I am excited that we are ready to move forward,” Haden said in a statement. “This new building will be the finest of its kind anywhere and will provide our student-athletes every opportunity to succeed academically and athletically.”

When opportunity for advancement arises, the university seizes it. And with the right leadership, supportive faculty and alumni and determined student body, there has never been a better time to do so.

Two new buildings. Two distinct purposes. One common vision.

Stephen Zelezny is a sophomore majoring in public relations. His column, “USC on the Move,” runs Thursdays.