USC News

Menu Search

President’s Page

One of the parts of my job I like best is running into Trojan alumni wherever I go. They tell me stories of what the university was like when they were students, or how USC helped shape their lives, or how proud they are to see what USC has become. And they almost always close with the same sentiment – “I’m a Trojan for life.”

“A Trojan for life.” The Class of 2007, which just enrolled for its first semester at the university, is embarking on a lifelong journey of participation, involvement, and commitment to the life of this institution. These young freshmen will, sooner than they realize, be Trojan alumni, and then perhaps Trojan parents and even Trojan grandparents, as they take their places in the long line of alumni who are the bedrock of the Trojan Family and one of our greatest strengths.

What do I mean by “one of our greatest strengths”? Let me give you just a few examples. Over the past 12 years, 54 alumni have served as members of the USC Board of Trustees. Alumni serve on the boards of councilors of USC College and of each of our 17 professional schools, providing important advice and counsel to the deans. USC alumni hold key administrative and faculty positions here, ensuring that the spirit of Troy remains unchanged as the university moves into the future.

The USC Marshall School of Business and the USC Rossier School of Education are named in honor of alumni. Alumni contributed roughly $1 billion – about one-third of the total raised – to the Building on Excellence campaign. About 34 percent of all our alumni contribute annually to their alma mater, more than two and a half times the number participating just a decade ago.

Alumni are our best ambassadors, spreading the word about the exciting things taking place on our two campuses. Alumni do a tremendous amount of student recruitment, making certain the nation’s brightest high school students hear the USC story and understand what it means to be connected to this great university.

Trojan alumni send us more and more of their children and grandchildren, thereby carrying on family traditions of attending USC (legacies now account for about 20 percent of each class, up from about 10 percent just a few years ago). As our academic selectivity has increased, the number of legacy applicants has risen dramatically. The university accepts a higher percentage of legacy applicants than non-legacies, and helps many of those who are not accepted as freshmen to develop and follow an academic plan which will allow them to transfer to USC after one or two years at another college.

“A Trojan for life.” That’s true in other ways, too, as the relationship between our alumni and the university changes over the course of the years. It used to be that a student came here at age 18 or so, left at 21, and returned only for reunions. No longer. Now alumni quite often return to campus as students after a hiatus of 20 years or more. They come back to brush up their professional training, to pursue whole new careers, or to fulfill intellectual dreams. It’s very inspiring to me to see them walking to class or studying in the library, demonstrating to us all that learning at USC is truly lifelong.

“A Trojan for life.” For me these words were illustrated at commencement last May as members of the Class of 1953 walked alongside their counterparts from the Class of 2003. There was a lot of applause at commencement, but the loudest ovation of all was given to these new Half-Century Trojans as they celebrated 50 years of participation in the life of this great university. I could tell from their faces how important the university is to them, and I hope they knew from the applause how important they are to the university. They are Trojans, as are we all, and always will be.

More stories about:

President’s Page

Top stories on USC News