“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.”

Leading Through People

Throughout history, great research universities have been great because of the richness of their intellectual capital – the quality of their faculty, students, postdoctoral scholars, and staff who uncover truths, question, produce new knowledge, invent, create, relentlessly push against the boundaries of the impossible, and endeavor to change the world. But, as times change, so do the dispositions required to transform society. The world today is more diverse, mobile, technologically demanding, and interconnected economically and culturally than ever before.

The university must adapt to these changing conditions even as we steadfastly recommit to our core mission: the relentless pursuit of new knowledge and primary commitment to creative expression and free inquiry. This constant striving for truth and academic excellence is never ending because the world is ever changing. In answering this call, we must aspire to greater rigor and relevance, to vigorous intellectual deliberation and openness to new voices and differing perspectives, to the ceaseless desire for discovery, to an unyielding commitment to following evidence wherever it leads, and to higher standards of quality, accuracy, and accountability. Never has the university been more important and never has society asked more of it.

To strengthen our unique mission and lead in this changing landscape, we must mirror the world in how we teach and mentor, conduct research, develop the professions, practice the arts, learn, and serve others. In order to lead, we must continue to invest heavily in intellectual capital – to recruit and retain it, to build and diversify it, and to nurture and empower it.

Cultivating the Entrepreneurial Spirit

Innovation is spurred not simply by necessity, but by an individual’s adventurous and optimistic mindset – a mindset that undergirds notions of the American Dream, and animates those of the California Dream. Indeed, it is the sense that anything is possible which led visionaries to create Hollywood, the aerospace industry, Silicon Valley, and, most recently, Silicon Beach. Nurturing that mindset within American research universities made the United States the most innovative country in the world. For USC to lead, it must harness that same sense of innovation to cultivate the entrepreneurial spirit.

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Embracing the Inclusive Spirit

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.

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Forging the Convergent Spirit

For decades, the overwhelming amount of information coming from major disciplines has led to a multiplication of ever-narrowing fields of discovery. Scholars have become experts in increasingly more restricted domains. Narrow expertise is still of immense importance; however, the problems of the 21st century do not fall into neatly and narrowly defined academic disciplines. For USC to lead, we must identify, recruit, train, support, and reward talent that sees problems and solutions from multiple viewpoints, moves fluidly across disciplines, and works comfortably in large, disparate teams. And we must continue our commitment to curiosity-based research and inquiry which so often inspires the mindset we hope to instill. USC must foster the convergent spirit.

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