“Over the next few years, USC will set a goal that every member of the Trojan Family contributes to making some small part of the world better.”

Leading Through Impact

The University of Southern California grew up with Los Angeles and with the Southern California region. From its founding in 1880, USC consciously declared itself not a pastoral college removed from the world of human affairs, but a city university committed to advancing society and elevating humanity. USC’s passion, to be the great private research university that serves the public good, was in no small part related to its symbiotic relationship with the city – each nurturing the other, each succeeding because of the other. Over the past century-and-a-half, each, in its own way, has grown into a global powerhouse. And now, the defining city of the 21st century and the defining university of the 21st century are looking to realize their full potential.


The intractable challenges of our age are large and complex. Solutions will be hard won and rarely perfect. In practice, this means recognizing that solutions to Alzheimer’s disease require neuroscience and cultural awareness, that a full grasp of cybersecurity demands grounding in humanist notions of privacy, and that innovation and creativity, once the sole domain of human intelligence, will soon include alternatives provided by artificial intelligence and machine learning. Such are the “wicked problems” of our time. USC will deploy its intellectual capital to tackle these wicked problems. Indeed, the breadth of our disciplinary expertise, and our long history of community service and community-led problem solving, coupled with entrepreneurial, inclusive, and convergent approaches make us uniquely suited to this task.

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Just as California in prior centuries was seen as the land of opportunity, now megacities play that role. Los Angeles is an engine of economic development, an arena for political and cultural pluralism, a stage for individual expression and collective action, a fount of artistic creativity, a laboratory to test notions of sustainability and security, and the seedbed of innovation. USC has much to contribute, and to gain, by seizing the inherent opportunities in Los Angeles.

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Universities leading in the 21st century cannot be silos. Nor can they believe they are not a silo simply because they are producing research with impact. Universities are part of the social fabric, especially in the geographic vicinity of their campuses, and as such, they must be caring and committed community partners. As Trojans, we should be immensely proud of our partnership with communities throughout Los Angeles and around the world.

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The 21st century, the century of medicine and biology, presents opportunities for creating innovations that will revolutionize health care treatments and delivery. But it is also a time that presents serious challenges, such as rising costs and access to quality health care, especially for the underprivileged. Working with our academic partners at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles (CHLA) and LAC+USC Medical Center, with our neighborhoods, and with the City and County of Los Angeles, USC has the potential to be a leading voice in the area of lifespan health and wellness here and around the world. It also highlights USC’s collective and more integrated approach to caregiving, drawing on the participation of scholars and practitioners not just in medicine but across many disciplines. By doing so, we will weave together all threads of our impact: solving problems, seizing opportunities, and supporting our community.

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