USC Culture Journey Continues

The Culture Journey is USC’s university-wide initiative to explore our values, align the supportive behaviors that bring those values to life and develop opportunities to improve our systems and processes. Our community is engaged in shaping our culture together.

Culture Journey Update, July 2020: Our University’s Values

We are very excited to share the latest update on the USC Culture Journey! See the message from the co-chairs of the Working Group on University Culture on the journey’s progress and how we are developing our values, aligning behaviors and prioritizing systems and processes that support and improve USC.

Check out the eight values and six recommended actions in this report. 

Our goal is to have our unifying (core) USC values and behaviors in the fall. Those will be embedded in our Code of Ethics and supported across USC through improvements to our HR processes (people development, leadership development) and communications, addressing concerns, well-being and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).

Stay tuned! The journey continues and will support USC’s enhanced culture.

Recent Journey Milestones

  • You shared your voice. More than 4,400 USC staff, faculty and students participated in 175-plus culture sessions (Town Halls and Discussion Sessions) from January to April to share their input on values, behaviors and the systems and processes needed to support and improve USC.
  • We continued to hear from you. With the help of our Culture Network, we continued discussion sessions during the pandemic in an online format to ensure that everyone had an opportunity to share their voice. Your input brought us to the eight values most frequently identified by our community as high priority and the changes needed in six key systems and processes.
  • We partnered with our community.
    • In April and May 2020, we met with our governance bodies — Working Group on Culture, Academic Senate, Staff Assembly, Undergraduate Student Government, and Graduate Student Government — to share USC-wide community feedback from the culture sessions.
    • We shared the initial values, behaviors, systems and processes identified in those sessions as “most critical” to our culture change and asked for their input to continue refining these into recommended values and actions.
    • From June to August 2020, we are meeting with all our deans and unit leaders and their leadership teams in 22 schools and 13 administrative units to share their specific school’s or unit’s community feedback from the Culture Sessions. We are asking for their perspectives on USC-wide values, behaviors and recommended actions (systems and processes). And we are sharing a variety of options on culture activities and initiatives that schools and units can partner with us on to involve their communities in the culture transformation.
  • We are also partnering with Human Resources on DEI, well-being, and efforts to address concerns, which were identified as other areas of culture focus at USC and are being led by other university groups, committees and governance bodies.

What’s coming up? Fall 2020 and beyond

  • In early fall 2020, we will update President Folt and her senior leadership team on this planning and prioritize recommended actions for change.
  • USC’s unifying values will be shared with our community – your feedback and input from the USC Cultural Values Poll and Culture Sessions is making this happen.
  • Planning for USC-wide culture activities and partnering with our schools and units to support them at the school/unit level.
  • Focus on desired values and behaviors to support the planning, development and improvement of systems, processes and skills, efforts across well-being and DEI to address concerns, and other areas of culture focus.

The USC Culture Journey: The Overview

Values Poll – Hearing from our community on our values

In October 2019, nearly 20,000 USC students, faculty and staff shared their voices on current and desired values at USC. The results of the Values Poll served as a starting point for conversations designed to capture the community’s feedback on values and behaviors.

The poll was the start of our culture conversations. In 2020, we held Culture Sessions (Town Halls and Discussion Sessions) to share the poll results with our schools and units.

USC Town Halls and Discussion Sessions – The culture conversation continues

From January to March 2020, more than 4,000 students, faculty and staff across USC participated in sharing their voices at nearly 170 Culture Sessions. The Town Halls gave our community the opportunity to continue conversations on culture. Participants heard the Values Poll results, both universitywide and school/unit-specific. In the Discussion Sessions, the USC community shared their insights, experience and input on values, behaviors, systems and processes that are either working well or need improvement.

Approximately 120 culture facilitators and culture advocates — faculty and staff across USC, trained in the Barrett Values model — facilitated these sessions.

We held:

  • 8 USC-wide Town Halls at UPC and HSC to share high-level poll results.
  • 38 school and unit Town Halls that shared school/unit-specific poll results.
  • 44 USC-wide in-person and virtual Discussion Sessions to gather staff, faculty and student feedback on specific values, behaviors, systems and processes.
  • 79 school and unit Discussion Sessions, which were focused on feedback related to their schools’ and units’ poll results.

We are grateful to everyone who provided input and insights to help shape USC’s future!

You can view the Town Hall presentations from each school/unit here.

President Folt’s welcome to USC Culture Sessions attendees

In this video, President Folt introduces the USC Culture Journey to all culture session attendees – Town Halls and Discussion Sessions.

Want to know more?

Download the Culture Journey Timeline.

Download the FAQ about the Culture Journey, Values Poll and Culture Conversations.

Download the Values Poll Fact sheet.

Download the Culture Network Fact sheet.

Interested in USC’s Culture Journey or becoming a partner for culture change? Email us at:

Media coverage on the Culture Journey

Faculty, Staff and Students Chart USC’s Future Through ‘Culture Journey’ (Trojan Family Magazine, Spring 2020)

USC’s Culture Commission is following up the Cultural Values poll with campus-wide discussions (USC Annenberg Media, February 18, 2020)

Annenberg Values Poll town hall prompts conversations about culture values (USC Annenberg Media, February 18, 2020)

From Where We Are: Dornsife reacts to USC’s Cultural Values Poll, new study shows how vaping affects human genome and why we need minority voices in journalism (USC Annenberg Media, February 13, 2020)

Dornsife hosts values town hall (Daily Trojan, February 14, 2020)

USC Dornsife has mixed thoughts on culture values poll results (USC Annenberg Media, February 13, 2020)

USC holds penultimate values town hall meeting (USC Annenberg Media, February 3, 2020)

University pilots culture sessions (Daily Trojan, January 22, 2020)

In wake of scandals, USC radically cuts number of trustees, imposes age limits, pledges more diversity (Los Angeles Times, November 5, 2019)

The USC Values Poll is a promising start but not the finish line (Daily Trojan, October 21, 2019)

Interim president establishes culture commission (Daily Trojan, November 14, 2018)