Dear USC community,
I am writing to share news about USC’s medical health system. As you all know, there is much to celebrate, and it was my pleasure to share this with you at my State of the University address at HSC. I also spoke with many of you at the installation of Dr. Carolyn Meltzer as Dean of the Keck School of Medicine the next day. She presented an exciting look at the future – from training to discovery, to service in our hospitals, clinics, and communities – that we are crafting together.
Medical care in our nation is at a crossroads. It is both our opportunity and responsibility to be leading the disruptive transformation ahead. While health care is beset by unsustainable costs and inequitable care, new models for serving communities and training medical professionals – as well as breakthroughs by researchers and advances in medical research and technology – are moving forward at an exponential pace. As one of our nation’s leading research universities, USC is uniquely positioned to lead.
Since joining USC as President in 2019, I have been laser focused on working with you to position USC among the best medical and research enterprises and as a trailblazer in launching the next generation of health care leaders. Working together, we have made big strides. In November 2019, the Board of Trustees voted to establish the USC Health System as a subsidiary of the university and establish a new Board of Directors to oversee this entity. Since its inception, this board has worked tirelessly to establish a strong governance and corporate foundation for our future. We also adopted a new leadership structure – culminating in the March 2021 hiring of Dr. Steve Shapiro as USC’s first Senior Vice President for Health Affairs. He then promoted Rod Hanners to CEO of Keck Medicine of USC and President and CEO of USC Health System.
Dr. Shapiro’s mission is to work with all of you to lead the USC health enterprise into an era of greater collaboration, integration, and alignment, bolster our growth, and increase the positive impact we have on our communities and beyond. Over this past year, this too has progressed rapidly, as we are advancing our acquisitions, growing our physician and patient base, and enhancing our clinical and research competitiveness throughout the region. We also have secured approval on several major capital projects that will lead to important joint ventures and research collaborations. Most exciting, we are building out the details for a USC Campaign for Health to support initiatives across all schools and academic disciplines.
This is an exciting time for our Health System and health sciences schools; and that is why I am announcing additional changes to bolster USC’s capacity to drive the future of health care, biomedical research, and interdisciplinary education. Over the next few months, the deans of each of our health sciences schools – the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry, Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, Keck School of Medicine of USC, School of Pharmacy, and Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work – will align as direct reports under the leadership of Dr. Shapiro. Provost Chip Zukoski will continue to play an essential role, as a strategically important partner for academic affairs, and I cannot express how grateful I have been to have Chip as a partner in making these changes.
In conjunction with the Keck Medicine health system, these schools represent separate pillars of disciplinary strength. Collectively they play vital roles in the health landscape of the future. Under this new organizational structure, each school will have a larger voice in the critical issues facing the health sciences and health care today, while maintaining their current autonomy and academic missions, and their vital roles in USC as a whole. The synergy that results from these shifts in alignment will serve to enhance collaboration, grow research, and reimagine interprofessional education. At the same time, cross-school integration will enable development of new models of clinical care that break down silos and improve patient outcomes at lower cost.
It has always been my opinion that USC is the leading “school of schools” in America. Working together, we can use our unrivaled size, scale, breadth, and excellence to rewrite the roadmap for transforming health care – and in strengthening the health and prosperity for all members of our communities.
Carol L. Folt