Globalization and modern technology have made the world both smaller and larger: smaller in the sense that the world has become our neighbor; larger in the sense that our neighbors share unique life experiences and perspectives, some vastly different than our own, that can help expand our understanding, our embrace, and our worldview. For college graduates to navigate the 21st century and benefit from this diversity of thought, universities must model the 21st century for its community, and it must show students the value of diversity, equity, inclusivity, cultural sensitivity, and intercultural competence. This is even more true for research universities because diversity and inclusion spark unique, valuable perspectives and novel innovations to our research, scholarship, and creative work. Just as diversification in nature makes ecosystems stronger, generative, and more resilient, so it does for culture, society, and university communities. For USC to lead, it must embrace this inclusive spirit.
Creating a community of diverse viewpoints – economic, cultural, intellectual – in order to build a generation of innovators, leaders, visionaries, and creators remains one of the highest priorities of USC. From its humble beginnings, USC welcomed students from around the world and, in this century, has enrolled more international students than any other college in the nation. More recently, we have established a student body that ranks among the highest in the country among private research universities in the number of underrepresented groups, Pell Grant recipients, first-generation college goers, transfer students, military veterans, and religious orientations practiced, among others. We have created a number of programs to support further diversification of our student and faculty bodies, created pipeline programs to expand diversity at all levels, and, led by the Academic Senate, made significant progress in creating an inclusive campus climate with regard to age, disability, ethnicity, gender identity, national origin, race, religious affiliation, sex, sexual orientation, and veteran status.
We will continue to prioritize diversity and inclusion. We will ask every school to create and execute a strategic plan for diversity and inclusion. We will invest in research programs that encourage evidence-based approaches to this work. We will create faculty leadership training programs so diverse voices have unfettered access to the mantle of university leadership here at USC and beyond. We will create programs for first-generation students – at all levels – that allow them to better navigate their campus experience and their chosen life and career paths. We will train faculty on how to foster a more inclusive classroom environment, and provide curricular opportunities for students to raise their cultural literacy. In sum, we will increase the opportunity for distinct voices to be heard on our campuses and we will instill the value of listening to those voices.