President C. L. Max Nikias delivered his State of the University address to the public on Thursday at Bovard Auditorium. Nikias spoke about inclusivity in the current political climate, the University Village and the Campaign for USC.
“Being a member of the USC community for the past 25 years has been one of the greatest joys of my life,” Nikias said. “I have always admired our community’s competitiveness and ambition, creativity and foresight, collaborative spirit and commitment to the most sacred values of the academy, which are ancient yet forever youthful.”
American universities, he said, have been a magnet for people from all continents because diversity, inclusion and innovation have defined their character for generations.
In the light of President Donald Trump’s travel ban, Nikias brought up the issue of two American values coming into conflict — national security and the openness of the United States to the outside world. Even though he emphasized the importance of safety, he remained unwavering in the University’s support for immigrants.
“We honor efforts to keep our nation safe,” Nikias said. “However, we will champion the inclusiveness and openness that set our nation and its top universities apart.”
Nikias said he believed USC was founded with a commitment to international diversity, nourishing greatness through the rich exchange of ideas, spanning a limitless range of nationalities and religions.
“If we lose the inclusive spirit, my fellow Trojans, we lose our souls,” Nikias said.
Due to USC’s academic scope and breadth, independence as a private university, history of public service and vigorous entrepreneurial spirit, Nikias expressed his desire for USC to shape this century.
He went on to say that faculty are the foundation of all academic excellence and expressed his condolences about the passing of Professor Bosco Tjan.
“We honor him by celebrating his example as a scholar and as a person, and we are also seriously addressing the faculty-student relationships for the well-being of our entire USC community,” Nikias said.
One of these opportunities for enhancing student life is the University Village, Nikias said, calling it an elite residential academic environment, housing 2600 students and composed of eight colleges with their own flags and symbols, giving rise to powerful new student life and traditions.
“Make no mistake about it, my fellow Trojans,” Nikias said. “The Village will be the envy of American higher education.”
With an eye toward the future, Nikias mentioned that the University has an obligation to steer students to career placement opportunities. While the Trojan family is a powerful network, Nikias said, more investments in student job placement are necessary, especially since the career landscape changes rapidly.
He announced that the University will begin fundraising for the construction of a new hospital on the Health Sciences Campus. It will include the expansion of operating rooms, intensive care units and cancer patient programs. According to Nikias, the state-of-the-art facility will reflect the needs of the future as far as revolutionary technology.
“It will make a statement that we are the destination to treat very sick patients,” Nikias said.
Another area where USC has excelled is its presence and initiative in Los Angeles, Nikias said.
“Not only are we the largest private employer in the city of Los Angeles, but also USC’s economic impact on this region is $8 billion annually,” Nikias said.
Nikias said that the Campaign for USC, the initiative to raise $6 billion, will be completed 18 months ahead of schedule. Due to its success, Nikias announced that the University will be extending its campaign for five more years.
He emphasized that academic investment remains crucial and key to making new friends, while promoting USC’s academic initiatives.
“My wife Niki and I are as excited as ever by the challenge, because we know it will bring our university to its ultimate, final and glorious destination,” Nikias said. “My fellow Trojans: Let us always, always remember that our dreams do have a deadline. Therefore, urgently … let us continue gathering resources to make them a reality.”
Nikias acknowledged that while USC has made great progress, the challenge is far from over.
“My fellow Trojans, I honestly believe we are exactly at that moment of our academic ascent,” Nikias said. “We have caught our own glimpse of an ocean of grand possibilities, the promise of a brighter future as an undisputedly elite academic institution. Let us therefore go forward with passion, with confidence and determination. And let us transform the promise into a magnificent reality.”