President’s Page

By C. L. Max Nikias
President Nikias enjoys spending time with students. USC currently enrolls students from 125 different nations. Photo by Steve CohnPresident Nikias enjoys spending time with students. USC currently enrolls students from 125 different nations. Photo by Steve Cohn

In the area of globalization, USC’s efforts are vast, ongoing and diverse. Over the past 10 years alone, we have hosted global conferences in a number of key cities, from Tokyo to Taipei, and last fall’s conference in Hong Kong was our most successful ever. Time and again we heard, “No one does it like USC.”

USC is so effective in this area because our community has deep international roots. Among American universities, we have the largest number of international students – due in no small measure to the outstanding strength of our graduate programs. We’re proud of this distinction and the attention it draws every year, but this headline doesn’t highlight the exceptional work our community does every single day, all over the globe. I can assure you: In profoundly transformative ways – and often with quiet determination – our faculty, staff, students and alumni do so much to make the world a better place.

Last December, for example, a cadre of engineering undergraduates traveled to a remote village in Honduras as part of USC’s Engineers Without Borders program. They installed a water pump, advancing a larger sustainable project, to bring water to hundreds of people without damaging the environment.

Their impact will be permanent, relieving young girls from the laborious task of carrying water from a distant source.

Meanwhile, USC’s Institute for Global Health continues to partner with Operation Smile, an international nongovernmental organization that provides reconstructive surgery to children born with facial deformities, particularly cleft lip and cleft palate. There is a tremendous need for these procedures in low-resource settings around the world, and Master of Public Health students at the Keck School of Medicine of USC have traveled to study these conditions and investigate ways to alleviate their effects. They’ve pursued plans to build a permanent clinic in Ethiopia, examined the burden of the cleft palate in Guwahati, India, and helped gather DNA samples and other research information in the Congo.

We can find similar examples at the USC Marshall School of Business. With support from the Society and Business Lab, founded by professor Adlai Wertman, one student spent last summer in India. She developed software for HIV/AIDS organizations that work with women and children, enabling them to receive important emails and text messages about their medical treatment. The experience has opened this student’s eyes: She is now interested in working abroad and will study Punjabi, thanks to a Critical Language Scholarship through the U.S. Department of State.

The USC Sol Price School of Public Policy, meanwhile, has established special international labs for our students. These provide that crucial, clinical link between academic learning and professional practice – all in a foreign setting. Students work in multidisciplinary teams to tackle a common problem, tailoring their skills to meet the unique needs of the location, from China to Brazil to the United Kingdom.

In this issue, you’ll read about other examples, as well. You’ll learn about USC alumni who are partnering with filmmakers in China as they work to build relationships that will benefit the film industries of both countries. You will also read about the International Human Rights Clinic, the USC Gould School of Law’s newest clinical program, that brought alumni to Cambodia, Tanzania and the Netherlands to work on human rights advocacy with judges at international tribunals.

Taken together, this impressive suite of examples reflects the remarkable work the Trojan Family does all over the world. These contributions don’t always grab headlines, and much of this work slips by without applause. But as president, I’m privileged to see the university’s larger tapestry of contributions, to appreciate the breadth of our community’s goodwill and to see the scope of its impact. I am truly in awe, and I know we all warmly cheer our fellow Trojans, both for their commitment to bettering our world and for the honor they bring back to us.