Niki Nikias and Max Nikias cycling
C. L. Max Nikias and Niki C. Nikias. Photo by Steve Cohn

Niki and I hope you had a wonderful summer. We enjoyed bike riding in Southern California and Idaho—and covered 416 miles! Everywhere we went, we were thrilled to meet so many Trojans for the first time.

And as we continue to meet alumni all over the world, we’re always touched by their keen interest in our current students. Trojans are so curious about life at USC, and understand that the four years our students spend here are tremendously formative. They surely know from experience: It is during the undergraduate years that many lifelong friends are made.

Perhaps no one understands this more thoroughly than USC Trustee Kathleen McCarthy. This past summer—as we cleared the way for construction of the new USC Village, preparing the vast expanse north of the University Park Campus to accommodate as many as 2,700 students—Mrs. McCarthy stepped forward with an extraordinarily generous gift, showing singular leadership in her commitment to both our students and USC Village.

Her exceptional gift will name the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Foundation Honors Hall, which will anchor the west side of USC Village and include space for honors seminars and one-on-one advising, as well as ample opportunities for students to interact outside their classes. Mrs. McCarthy’s philanthropy will touch generations of students, and represents a remarkable investment in their future success.

USC Village will make the university fully residential—a long-standing ambition of our community. Our larger goal is to nurture our students’ intellectual and creative growth, and ensure they have a safe atmosphere in which to explore who they are and to become independent adults. In doing so, we’ll bolster all aspects of our students’ education.

At the heart of USC Village will be a central plaza that will come alive with concerts, outdoor lectures and special events. In addition to this plaza and the Leavey Honors Hall, USC Village will include eight undergraduate residential colleges. These will foster camaraderie among our undergraduates as soon as they arrive at USC. Each college will provide unique opportunities to develop friendships and participate in extracurricular activities.

In this setting, students will continue the conversations they begin in their classrooms, perhaps bringing a question they raised in a biology class to the dorm’s dining hall, where they can further explore it among friends studying music, business or philosophy. They might have an impromptu concert, or find that they share a passion for a certain writer or filmmaker. They might toss around ideas for apps or plan a trip to the Getty.

The residential colleges will also emphasize themes based on some of USC’s major interdisciplinary strengths: the arts and humanities, informatics and digital knowledge, convergence of science and engineering, and health across the lifespan. I am confident that each year, as our accepted students consider their options, our residential colleges will be a significant draw, allowing us to enroll even more top-level students.

As a community, we eagerly anticipate the addition of USC Village, and as alumni, you especially understand how it will profoundly enrich our undergraduates’ experience. Niki and I are so grateful for your continued support of your alma mater, and for all that you do for USC. As we begin a new academic year at the university—our fifth as president and first lady of USC—we send you our warmest personal regards.

Fight On!

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