Dornsife dean reaffirms pledge through Twitter

Steve Kay, dean of the David and Dana Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, will answer questions from the USC community posted on Twitter with the hashtag #20Qs4DeanK in honor of his one-year anniversary as dean of Dornsife.

“My one-year anniversary seemed like a perfect time to publicly reaffirm my commitment to our students and to the Trojan Family by encouraging a conversation,” Kay said. “Twitter is a perfect forum for a conversation. It’s immediate, it’s simple and it’s accessible to nearly everyone.”

Students, administrators and other members of the USC community tweeted questions to Kay from Nov. 12 through Nov. 15.

“I think that this is a really positive way for  USC administrators to show that they’re really interested in students,” said sophomore Halle Edwards-McQuilton, who is majoring in mathematics and American studies and ethnicity. “I think [Kay’s Twitter event] is a very tangible way to show [the administration’s] interest and that they’re committed to helping students and communicating with them.”

Kay plans to answer questions from his #20Qs4DeanK event beginning the week of Nov. 18, selecting 20 of them at random.

“To someone who has never met up with or seen him before, I don’t know what his image would be,” said Kenneth Tham, a senior majoring in chemical biology. “So this is a good way for him to reach out to a large group of people and show that this is his personality.”

Questions posted with the hashtag #20Qs4DeanK varied in nature. Many students asked questions regarding the dean’s personal preferences.

“If you could take any class at USC what would it be and why?” tweeted Caroline Friend, a sophomore majoring in film production and history.

Friend said she was interested in Kay’s choice because she believes class choices can be indicative of personality.

“I thought it would be interesting because there are so many options across USC in general,” Friend said. “I think it tells a lot about a person to see what classes they’re interested in.”

Edwards-McQuilton, who asked Kay what his most memorable course was as an undergraduate student, said she believes administrators have a lot more in common with students than most students think, and she’s interested in hearing Kay’s perspective on a number of issues.

“When I think about administrators, I often forget that they were once students too,” Edwards-McQuilton said. “They might have had the same or at least similar experiences as students are having now.”

Kay encouraged not only questions about his personality, but also questions to get to know him better professionally.

“I asked Dean Kay what his vision was for making USC more accepted in the scientific community because right now USC is not considered to be a really top-tier science school, even though we just had our latest Nobel Prize winner in chemistry, which would be Professor [Ariel] Warshel,” Tham said. “So now we have two Nobel laureates in chemistry, but at the same time, USC is not considered to be a strong science school.”

Tham listened to one of Kay’s speeches, during which he said Kay was articulate, outspoken and cultured, with a strong scientific background.

“I could tell that he’s very passionate about biology and doing research,” Tham said. “So I thought, ‘If this is our new dean, maybe USC could have a bigger impact in the scientific community.’”

Kay also uses the hashtag #Koolscience as a way to promote scientific research and news.

“I’m a scientist at heart, so I follow research and scientific news very closely,” Kay said. “Using the hashtag #Koolscience is my way of sharing interesting and noteworthy scientific findings.”

Kay is an avid Twitter user. He first launched his account on the social media site at the USC Dornsife Initiative kickoff event on March 9, 2013.

“My goal is to let our community know that through Twitter they have a direct way of interacting with me,” Kay said.

Kay was appointed the 21st dean of Dornsife in May of 2012 and started his post during the following fall semester in October.

“I wouldn’t mind having lunch with him or talking about sports or whatever,” Tham said. “He’s just a really cool guy.”

Students can find Kay on Twitter @DeanSteveKay.

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