USC appoints new IYA dean

Picture of red, brown and light grey bricked building with various beige colored window arches. Above the main entrance arch, text reads "Iovine and Young Hall."
Incoming Iovine and Young Academy dean Thanassis Rikakis, who has held academic leadership roles at Columbia University and Carnegie Mellon University, will serve as the school’s second dean since its formation in 2013. (Vincent Leo | Daily Trojan)

Thanassis Rikakis will serve as dean of Iovine and Young Academy, Provost Charles Zukoski announced in a communitywide email Thursday. 

Rikakis will start Aug. 23 and act as the school’s second dean since its establishment in 2013. Erica Muhl, founding executive director of IYA who formerly occupied the role of inaugural dean, now serves as President of the Berklee College of Music since July 1. 

Currently a professor of bioengineering and performing arts at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and a principal investigator at the Virginia Tech Carilion Smart Rehabilitation Lab and the Interactive Neurorehabilitation Lab, Rikakis is also the founding director of Calhoun Discovery Program — a Virginia Tech honors college program with collaborative studies in nine areas including engineering, design, humanities and policy. Rikakis also serves as director of the Calhoun Center for Higher Education Innovation.

“Throughout his career, Thanassis Rikakis has been passionate about connecting creativity and technology — and seeing the overlap among diverse disciplines, from the arts to engineering,” President Carol Folt told USC News. “As a musician, engineer and educator, he erased lines separating academic disciplines through his spirit of reimagination. That spirit aligns directly with the academy’s mission at the intersection of art, entrepreneurship, tech and communication.”

According to the email, Rikakis previously worked as Vice President and Provost of Virginia Tech and has held various leadership positions at Columbia University, Carnegie Mellon University, Arizona State University and Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. Rikakis’ research has comprised 45 peer reviewed articles on subjects including design and the arts, engineering and education. From his work, Rikakis has received recognition and grants from the  National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research and the National Science Foundation. 

“I’m really excited to be coming to such a well-structured, forward-looking initiative,” said Rikakis in an interview with USC News. “Creating a space for people who learn differently is going to be a major goal for education in the 21st century, whether at the college level or the high school level.”

USC previously appointed Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism Dean Willow Bay to serve as interim dean of IYA July 1. Bay also co-chaired the IYA search committee alongside Executive Vice Provost Elizabeth Graddy since Jan. 6.