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.
Chantelle Rice Collins isn’t sure who nominated her to participate in USC’s culture change efforts, but their reasons for doing so become clear once she starts talking about her passion for cultivating individual well-being. “This isn’t fluff,” Rice Collins said. “Creating nurturing environments at USC is for the benefit and the effectiveness of the university. We can start small, but we need to think long term.”
If there’s one thing USC has going for it as it embarks on a journey of culture change, it’s that its community of faculty, staff, students and alumni care deeply about its mission. It’s a strength that Paul S. Adler, a professor at the USC Marshall School of Business, believes will help the university through this multi-year process.
Yaniv Bar-Cohen calls it like he sees it, not how he wants to see it. It’s a personality trait that has served him well in his work as a pediatric heart rhythm specialist at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, where most days include high-stakes patient diagnoses and treatment decisions made under extreme pressure. It’s also served him well in his past year as USC Academic Senate president as he dealt with the fallout from the discovery of misconduct and mismanagement at the university.
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.