“Building the best culture for Trojans begins with understanding the values at the heart of our community. Next week, on October 14, we will launch the USC Values Poll – a fifteen-minute, online poll for all students, staff, and faculty…Culture change is a journey. It is something that we develop together over time through honest, open conversation and the actions each of us take every day.”
Charles Zukoski begins his term as University Provost. As the second-ranking administrator at USC, the provost oversees all academic programs at the university, the 23 professional schools and units and educational policies. He will manage the divisions dedicated to academic and faculty affairs, student affairs, admission and enrollment research, campus well-being, global initiatives, libraries and museums, among others. Zukoski said he is enthusiastic about collaborating with faculty members, school leaders and students to advance the university’s educational, research and community engagement goals.
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.
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.