For the first time in university history, the president of USC’s Academic Senate will be an M.D.
The Academic Senate is the primary governing body of the university faculty from the University Park and health sciences campuses.
“I have a wonderful opportunity to bridge the gap and improve relationships between faculty from both campuses and encourage interdisciplinary activities, whether that’s in research, teaching or just socialization,” Conti said. “There is a great opportunity to represent the Keck School and increase its presence among the various schools and units. I have a unique responsibility to do that.”
Bringing eight years of experience as a member of the Senate to his new post, Conti will serve as president of the group for a one-year term. He follows Alex Capron, holder of the Scott H. Bice Chair in health care law, policy and ethics at the USC Gould School of Law and the Keck School of Medicine.
“The Keck School of Medicine faculty, staff, students and I are very proud of Dr. Conti and his election as president of the USC Academic Senate,” said Keck School dean Carmen A. Puliafito. “The election of a physician is an historic accomplishment, and his leadership will be visible at an historic time in USC history, with a new president assuming leadership of the University. Dr. Conti’s new role will help to strengthen the links between our Keck School of Medicine faculty and the rest of USC.”
Comprised of faculty leaders from all schools within the university, the Academic Senate works with administration to develop policies and procedures related to faculty life. In cooperation with the Office of the Provost and deans from around the university, the Senate works to mitigate serious and sensitive issues such as grievances and policies related to relationships with outside industry.
“What we want to do is create a positive environment where issues can be resolved effectively and to people’s satisfaction,” Conti said. “We try to work through system problems and fix those policies and procedures that aren’t correct.”
Conti has identified four key goals for his term:
� continue to strengthen faculty wellness programs that provide incentives for healthy lifestyle choices;
� improve university-wide research administration practices to create a more productive and effective infrastructure and increase research grant success;
� grow the culture for mentoring young faculty members, postdoctoral researchers and teachers;
� reinvigorate the medical faculty assembly by increasing engagement and participation among Keck School faculty members.
Conti’s most visible role as president of the faculty may be during the upcoming inauguration of USC’s next president, C. L. Max Nikias. Conti will lead the procession into the ceremony holding the mace, representing the role of the faculty in university life.
“This is an exciting opportunity — university inaugurations only happen every 10 to 20 years or so,” Conti said. “I have two hoods — my purple Ph.D. hood and my green M.D. hood, and I’m debating which one to wear. I think I’ll wear my green one to make it clear that this is something different.”
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