USC President: spotlight on diversity in annual address

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Inspiring speech of Max Nikias!!! I shared part of them collected in this article release at news.usc.edu:

Nikias puts spotlight on diversity in annual presidential address

‘Nobody talks at the national level about the real crisis we face as a nation’

USC President C. L. Max Nikias delivers his State of the University Address on Feb. 11, 2016. (USC Photo/Gus Ruelas)

USC President C. L. Max Nikias delivers his State of the University Address on Feb. 11, 2016. (USC Photo/Gus Ruelas)

 BY Alicia Di Rado

USC will not be satisfied until the Trojan Family is united in a shared commitment to justice and equality, said USC President C. L. Max Nikias in his annual State of the University Address.

Before a packed Town and Gown today, Nikias delivered a major speech on the topic of diversity, an issue that recently has come to the fore at USC and many other top research universities nationwide. For the last several years, he acknowledged, the country has seen too many incidents of intolerance — and USC has not been immune. He urged the university community to seize this time as an opportunity to stand strong for inclusion.

“When we exclude, we betray ourselves,” he said to faculty, quoting Mexican author Carlos Fuentes. “When we include, we find ourselves.” Nikias went on to add, “It is by embracing every culture, my fellow colleagues, every religious view, every individual, that we find ourselves.”

Nikias stressed the need for open dialogue among USC students, educators and staff about discrimination and prejudice.

“We know that when members of our Trojan Family stand up and speak out, we must lend our ears and listen,” he said. “Because when we listen to each other, we learn from each other, and we understand each other in a deeper and more meaningful way.”

hile such discussion may spur conflict, Nikias called on the USC community to focus on its point of unity. “USC may be home to a broad array of perspectives and opinions,” he said, “but we all must share a common bond: a love of this university.”

Advances in inclusion

To understand students’ opinions and needs, the president regularly meets with small groups of students. “We know that when members of our Trojan Family stand up and speak out, we must lend our ears and listen,” he said.

During the last five months, many of the discussions between Nikias and students have focused on diversity and related issues. He also has met with graduate and undergraduate student leaders to listen to their concerns about diversity and inclusion and has consulted and discussed the topic with key faculty.

“Throughout time, universities have strongly championed freedom of inquiry, freedom of expression and a relentless search for truth,” Nikias said. “It is only through the crucible of debate that we ultimately determine what is best for our community and our society.”

Nikias thanked Provost Michael Quick for establishing the Provost’s Diversity Task Force, which seeks ways to improve campus climate across USC. He also encouraged involvement and critical conversation from the broader faculty: “We’re developing a deeper dialogue with each of our schools, asking you to offer your ideas and your input to increase faculty diversity.”

USC has added a new mentoring initiative to examine existing faculty diversity programs, he said, and the university will continue to support the Provost’s Postdoctoral Scholars in the Humanities, a program that fosters inclusion among faculty and postdoctoral fellows.

“With our great diversity,” he said, “we must ensure that we remain a university dedicated to access, to opportunity, to inclusivity.

“Together, faculty and staff, students and academic leaders share this important responsibility.”

At the same time, Nikias celebrated USC’s successes in expanding diverse students’ access to the university, regardless of their financial or socioeconomic background, while also elevating the university’s academic standing.

The university has made gains in attracting talented students from low-income families. Nearly a quarter of USC’s enrolled undergraduate students this fall received Pell Grants, an indication of financial need. The sheer number of these students places USC third in the United States in enrolling Pell Grant recipients.

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All article available to read at: news.usc.edu