Looking forward by looking back

You can’t blame USC for looking forward.

Our university is still rising in stature at a breakneck pace. In two decades we have begun to transition from a commuter to a residential school, seen our admission rate plummet by 46 percent and leapfrogged over our crosstown rival in the U.S. News & Word Report rankings, resting at No. 23.

With the torch passed to newly inaugurated President C. L. Max Nikias, future Trojans can expect exciting improvements to the school’s landscape as well as its prestige. With an expected remodeling of the area surrounding campus in the plans, USC is staged to become an integral part of Los Angeles, a leader in the nation, and a powerhouse on the international stage.

But as the university continues growing, it cannot overlook one of the most important factors influencing its every move. How do we make sure that USC’s expansion doesn’t come at the expense of the surrounding community?

As administrators, staff and students eagerly look into the university’s future, we encourage our university to look into the past and let our storied history with the community serve as a road map for the coming years.

In his short time as president, Nikias has already emphasized the importance of community engagement.

From touring the USC Family of Schools and promising additional support to planning a job development initiative for local businesses, it’s clear that Nikias understands not only how important USC is to its neighbors but how important the community is to the university.

It’s time for all of USC to follow suit. Students must go beyond their traditional service-learning experiences and other high-ranking administrators must venture outside of their offices for us to truly understand the area that surrounds us.

A crucial part of that understanding is knowing how our current relationship came to be.

“We live in a community, and we live for a community,” Nikias told students earlier this month.

It’s time to take these words to heart.