“Our mission is urgent, our energy boundless, our vision sweeping, and our Trojan Spirit indefatigable. The 21st century calls us to action, to lead now and long into the future.”

Answering the Call

The 2018 Strategic Plan

The University of Southern California’s ascent as one of the world’s premier research universities is unparalleled. Accelerating our rise will require a more expansive view of the role of higher education within and beyond the academy. To be the great 21st century research university, we must lead through values – reaffirming our commitment to our core academic principles, to our code of ethics, and to each other, while adding new voices and exploring new, equitable ways of acting in the world.

We must lead through people – nurturing a cadre of faculty, students, and staff who embrace not just the entrepreneurial spirit, but the inclusive spirit and the convergent spirit as well. We must lead through impact – seizing opportunities and solving the intractable problems of our city and the world, supporting the underserved who wish to improve their lives and the lives of others, and reinventing medicine and caregiving to improve health and wellness for all. And we must lead through transformation – asking how we might reimagine higher education, elevate the value of a university degree, expand access and opportunity for those of immense talent who will make us the most prosperous society in the world, and reimagine the college experience to prepare graduates to face world challenges with optimism and purpose. The 21st century calls us to action. The University of Southern California will answer that call.

The Four Pillars


For USC to be a leading voice in the 21st century, we must be known not just for what we do but how we do it.

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Our faculty, staff, and students across the university embrace USC’s entrepreneurial, inclusive, and convergent spirit.

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To become the most impactful 21st century university, USC will be both a great global institution and a great local friend and neighbor.

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Audacity has been a defining characteristic of USC. As we reinvent the future, we will simultaneously reinvent ourselves.

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USC & Los Angeles

Throughout their histories, USC and Los Angeles found ways to turn moments of crisis and contradiction into new pathways to human happiness: to turn paradox into progress. More...

A Message From the Provost

Our 2018 Strategic Plan: Answering the Call charts our path forward as a leading global research university by asking us to re-commit to our core academic and societal values, to invest in people who embody entrepreneurial, convergent, and inclusive spirits, to invent the future and support our communities, and to reinvent higher education for the 21st Century. The plan is ambitious and our success depends not just on adequate resources, but on leadership and engagement by our world-class faculty, staff, and students.

We have already made multiple investments in support of the Strategic Plan. We have increased funding for research infrastructure, created inter-school research centers such as the USC Race and Equity Center, the USC Michelson Center for Convergent Bioscience, the USC Center for Artificial Intelligence in Society, the Center for Human-Applied Reasoning and the Internet of Things (CHARIOT), and launched programs aimed at confronting the complex issues of homelessness, security & sustainability, lifespan health, and immigration & global migration. We have new initiatives related to arts for social change and in teaching excellence. We have taken major steps to advance diversity, access, and opportunity across the university in ways that are coming to fruition. We are just getting started, and in the weeks ahead I will update you on additional initiatives in these areas.

Over the next five years my office will be allocating a minimum of $10 million per year to further advance the goals of the 2018 Strategic Plan.

As part of this effort, I have asked the Academic Senate to establish faculty committees for each of the four pillars of the Strategic Plan. These committees will be in charge of soliciting proposals from our community and allocating the necessary resources.
While it will be up to the faculty committees to design the types of proposals to be considered, the kinds of efforts we want to sponsor will strengthen our culture and refocus us on our core academic values. They will be in keeping with the Strategic Plan’s main tenets: leading through impact, people, values, and transforming our university. I urge you to think beyond your area of expertise, across schools. I encourage you to reach bigger and broader to strengthen our intellectual community.

I will update you once the committees are established and when they have designed their requests for proposals. In the meantime, we have a new strategic plan website, https://strategic.usc.edu/ that I invite you to visit. We will add new information to the site as we have it.

As our plan states: our mission is urgent, our energy boundless, and our vision sweeping. Let’s take on this challenge together.