Family and friends, learning and heart: That’s what matters most to Lynette Merriman, senior associate dean for Student Affairs.
Merriman shared this insight into her personal and professional life as part of “What Matters to Me and Why,” a monthly lunchtime discussion sponsored by the Office of Religious Life and the Levan Institute for Humanities and Ethics.
The program provides an opportunity for USC faculty and administrators to extend their mentorship by sharing wisdom, moral guidance and sources of spiritual strength with students and the Trojan community.
“I know heart is a very simple word, and it means a lot of different things, but I think about it in the context of the way you treat others,” she said. “It’s about helping others; it’s about selflessness; it’s about caring and respect; and it’s really about values.”
Merriman brings a lot of heart to her work in Student Affairs, where she oversees Student Support and Advocacy, the Center for Women and Men, and Fraternity and Sorority Leadership Development.
Born in Minnesota, Merriman moved to a college town in Wisconsin when she was in second grade. Her late mother was a teacher of the learning disabled; her father is an ordained minister and advocate for social justice.
“My parents were both avid readers,” she said. “They taught me to read very different perspectives and views from around the world before I was able to conclude something. This is why I love working in higher education.
“There are different views and perspectives that really live, breed and coexist in the college community,” she added. “I learn from that all the time.”
To this day, her closest friends were made on the playground of her elementary school. Merriman continues to see those friends three to four times a year, despite the fact that they live in four different states.
“I hear people say you only have a few really good friends you can rely on — forget that whole Facebook list,” she said. “I don’t want to say I’m an exception to this rule by any means, but rather the community where I was raised was an exception to this rule.”