The University’s singular focus must continue to be the students, patients, and community we serve. They are the center of our academic and medical mission, and we owe them our very best. Our shared commitment must be to ensure that all of our students step onto campus feeling energized, motivated, safe, and confident about their USC experience. Our dedicated faculty and staff work constantly and tirelessly towards this goal.
A member of the faculty, addressing the very purpose of a University, remarked that “we are the light of the human mind.” Our light has dimmed recently. By working together, with passion and commitment, we will restore trust and heal our community. It is because of that Trojan passion and commitment that USC will light the human mind more luminously than ever before.
If the past two years have convinced Renee Almassizadeh of anything, it is that there is a need for a shift in USC’s culture. She hears often from staff members that they feel under-appreciated by the university. Their reasons vary, she acknowledged, but it’s also a perception that she hopes is starting to shift, thanks to university-wide efforts to spark culture change efforts.
As part of broader efforts to strengthen USC’s organizational culture, experienced attorney and university administrator Felicia Washington will join USC as senior vice president of human resources. Her responsibilities will include overseeing the long-term strategic management and support of the university’s nearly 28,000 faculty and staff members and student workers. USC has also named strategic communications professional Glenn Osaki as the university’s new senior vice president and chief communications officer. Osaki has more than 30 years of experience in strategic communications, most recently serving as president of Asia-Pacific for MSL, an international public relations firm.
Felipe Osorno knows that culture change initiatives can work. “When we communicate often about the things that matter, people pay attention. But when there are gaps in information, people fill in those gaps and make assumptions about what matters and what doesn’t,” Osorno said. He encourages staff who haven’t gotten involved in the university’s culture change efforts to speak up, to volunteer to help, and more importantly, to live their personal values.
USG president Debbie Lee, a member of the President’s Culture Commission, hopes that the work being done will reap real change and bring healing to campus, even if it comes after she’s graduated and moved on. “I think society tells us that we need instant results and instant impact. And there should be a sense of urgency around fixing things and doing the right things. But long-term healing [and changing culture] takes patience and continuous work,” says Lee. “It doesn’t get fixed by one certain action or one certain statement or one action plan. It’s a series of things, building upon days and days of work.”
Michael Quick, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, and Carol Mauch Amir, senior vice president for legal affairs and professionalism, have formally signaled their intent to retire from their positions, effective June 30, 2019.
Stacy Giwa has joined USC as vice president of ethics and compliance — with a focus on values and culture and the goal of strengthening integrity and ethical decision-making across the university. “For all the right reasons, USC is taking a step back to see what we can learn from our key stakeholders about our values,” said Giwa. “It’s a really pivotal time. There are a lot of great things happening here, so to be part of helping people engage around values as a core element of meeting our objectives of being a top research university and outstanding medical enterprise is exciting.”