Newly elected USC Provost Elizabeth Garrett said she didn’t think it was a coincidence that she has similar goals as President C.L. Max Nikias for the university.
“I really do share a lot of his fundamental academic values and principals,” Garrett said. “I would say that most of the academic leadership of this university has very complimentary and compatible visions and goals.”
These goals, she said, are driving her excitement for working with deans, faculty, staff and students as provost and senior vice president of academic affairs.
USC announced Thursday that Garrett will officially fill the position of provost at the university, after having spent several months as interim provost during the search period.
The search for provost began in April, after it was announced that Nikias would be leaving the position to become president of the university. The search committee chose Garrett out of 225 candidates.
Garrett, who served as a USC administrator for five years in the provost’s office, said her main goal, along with Nikias’, is to enhance the residential student experience at USC through programs and academic activities.
“We need to solidify that residential quality and the vibrancy of the campus for our students and the faculty,” she said.
Life on campus has changed during recent years, she said, from being an empty campus at night to having students everywhere on campus in the evenings.
“Part of the university I love is the chaos: the chaos of the classroom, the chaos of a research lab, the chaos of writing an article,” Garrett said. “That’s part of being in the university.”
Other goals include continuing to push for USC’s globalization efforts and outreach, utilizing the university’s hospitals and continuing to recruit nationally renowned faculty.
“The more we can do within the academic community, the better,” she said. “I see a university as equipping people to make a difference in the world.”
She would also like to see greater and stronger Ph.D. programs, she said, to enhance the research that is happening at USC.
“This is a critical time for our Ph.D. programs,” Garrett said. “We have even more that are really at the cusp of becoming the truly great Ph.D.s in the country.”
Garrett began her career in law, with past experiences working as a clerk for late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and serving as the co-director of the USC-Caltech Center for the Study of Law and Politics. She is also a professor in the USC Gould School of Law.
It is this experience working with students that will inform her job as provost, she said.
“What we’re doing is helping people learn tools and learn how to ask the right questions to make a difference,” Garrett said. “Teaching students has given me great love and appreciation for what goes on in the classroom.”
In her time at USC, Garrett said she learned from both former President Steven B. Sample and current President Nikias.
“I’ve had the fortune to watch two great leaders in my time here,” she said. “Working with President Nikias has been terrific. He’s been a tremendous leader and role model for me.”