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Student Affairs vice president to step down in June

USC Vice President for Student Affairs Michael L. Jackson (Photo/Philip Channing)

Michael L. Jackson, vice president for Student Affairs, will step down from his position on June 30, USC President C. L. Max Nikias announced in a letter to the USC community on Feb. 11.

“For 18 years, Dr. Jackson has served in this key leadership role with tremendous distinction, assisting the university in its efforts to become a top destination for students around the world, as well as a fully residential university,” Nikias wrote. “Dr. Jackson has touched countless students with his vision and compassion, and I know the entire USC community joins me in commending his outstanding service.”

Jackson will take a one-year sabbatical from USC and return as emeritus vice president and executive director of International Advancement.

He will also continue to serve as a professor of higher education at the USC Rossier School of Education. USC Provost Elizabeth Garrett will soon begin a national search for a new leader for the Division of Student Affairs.

“I have been honored to serve in this role at USC,” Jackson said. “I am a bit overwhelmed and humbled by the many expressions of support and love I am getting from trustees, faculty, students, staff and alumni who have sent emails and called to let me know that they will miss me.

“I will miss them and want everyone to know that I sincerely appreciate all that USC has done for me and my wife,” he continued.

“The USC community embraced us and encouraged us to help make USC an even better place during our time here. We believe in USC’s mission and will continue to support it for many years to come.”

Jackson and his wife, the Rev. Diana Akiyama, were recruited from Stanford University, where he served as dean of students, and she was associate dean of the chapel at Stanford. Akiyama subsequently earned her PhD from the USC School of Religion and Social Ethics.

During his time at USC, Jackson has had a major impact on services and facilities for students, including the construction of the International Residential College at Parkside, the Arts and Humanities Residential College, the Ronald Tutor Campus Center, and most recently, the Engemann Student Health Center.

He also oversaw the expansion of the USC Career Center, the Center for Women and Men, the Center for Academic Support, orientation programs, residential colleges and the refurbishment of the Lyon Recreation Center.

Under his leadership, the division established the Office of Student Support and Advocacy and the Trojans Care for Trojans program to support students in crisis; the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Resource Center; Transfer and Veteran Student Programs; Fraternity and Sorority Leadership Development; the Office for Parent Programs; and the Hong Kong Parents Association.

In 2001-02 and 2005-06, during leadership transitions at the university, Jackson oversaw undergraduate admissions and financial aid, ensuring that the university met its enrollment goals for this key operation.

In 2003-04, he served as president of the 13,000-member National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA). In 2008, he was the recipient of the Scott Goodnight Award, NASPA’s highest award for outstanding service as a dean.

From 2002-12, he was a governor-appointed public member of the California Educational Facilities, which authorizes bonds for the financing of building and facility improvement projects at private colleges and universities in the state.

He currently is completing a second three-year term as a commissioner of the Western Association of Senior Colleges and serves as a trustee of the Stevenson School in Pebble Beach, Calif.

At USC, Jackson also has been a successful fundraiser, garnering large grants and gifts from federal agencies, foundations, alumni, parents and friends of USC in the United States, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan and Taiwan. The gifts have supported the building of residential colleges, the Tutor Campus Center, programs for students with learning differences, and the diversification of faculties in American colleges and universities.

Among his successes, Jackson was instrumental in securing the $10 million endowment to establish the Kortschak Center for Learning and Creativity; the $2 million endowment established by Nadine and Bill Tilley to ensure that the USC Traveler mascot tradition continues; and the more than $2 million raised from USC alumni and parents from Asia to fund the International Plaza in the Tutor Campus Center.

“As we acknowledge Dr. Jackson’s stellar service to USC,” Nikias wrote in his letter, “we wish him continued success in the next phase of his career.

“His contributions to this university are both extensive and exceptional, and for this, we are all truly grateful.”

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