1/7: Message to the USC Community from President Folt

Dear Trojan Community,

These are unprecedented times for our nation and world – and for USC – that are testing us in so many ways.

Yesterday, we witnessed a violent assault on our democratic process as rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol. But Congress returned last night and by early this morning had certified Joe Biden’s election as our next President. We lived up to the words of Benjamin Franklin, who warned that a representative system was only ours – if we could keep it.

We’re also in one of the worst periods in the COVID-19 pandemic, including right here in Los Angeles, where the virus continues to rage. Still, we see remarkable courage and heroism everywhere – on the part of front line responders at our hospitals as well as ordinary people – including many of our amazing students, faculty, and staff – doing extraordinary things to provide help and restore hope.

Against this tumultuous backdrop, tomorrow we will carry on an age-old academic tradition: Convocation. We’ll welcome new students to USC for the spring term as part of the continuous cycle of growth and renewal that energizes us – and reminds us of the critical importance of our role in society.

In thinking about tomorrow’s events in the context of current events, I have never been more committed to my belief that American universities are critical to a great and thriving democracy like ours. Our job is not just to teach our students but also encourage them to vote, to protest peacefully, to question, to speak out, and to advance societal good.

We are champions of civil discourse, mutual respect, and intelligent debate. Together, we are an essential part of the solution to bridge what divides us as a country.

As difficult as 2020 was for all of us, it is already clear that we will be facing equally demanding challenges in 2021. At times they may feel insurmountable, but we know they’re not. As a reminder, for those who need additional support, we have resources for faculty and staff at the Center for Work and Family Life (CWFL) and Campus Wellbeing and Crisis Intervention (CWCI), and for students through Counseling and Mental Health or 213-740-9355 (WELL).

We will continue to push forward, solve problems and live the values that make us strong as a united university community: integrity, excellence, diversity, equity and inclusion, well-being, open communication, and accountability. We are living these values in many ways right now, and in the weeks and months ahead, we will look for even more opportunities to come together around them.

As we prepare to start a new semester, I hope that all of you and your loved ones remain healthy, safe, and well. We start the new year recognizing that the small things we can offer to each other – a kind word, a generous gesture, a sympathetic shoulder – can lead to a renewed sense of hope and optimism for all, and open the way to better days ahead.


Carol L. Folt