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Message from Joseph Aoun

Farewell Message

Dear Colleague:

Six years ago you joined me in imagining a new USC College - a College second to none in the quality of its faculty and the vibrancy of its undergraduate and graduate programs, a College confident in the relevance and centrality of its mission, and a College proud of its past and traditions, but not afraid to chart its own course for the future.  The vision we shared was bold, perhaps even audacious.  But today it is safe to say we have attained a level of strength and momentum unprecedented in the College’s 125 year history.  

From the beginning, our goal was clear - not to copy what others institutions have done, but to identify domains in which we would have a competitive edge.  Recognizing that exciting new discoveries come at the intersection of disciplines, you energized our College by helping recruit the most promising scholars in emerging fields and creating intellectual centers to address the most compelling issues facing us today.  Our faculty hiring initiative allowed us to diversify and grow the number of faculty from around 350 to close to 500.

Together, we also realized the merit of leveraging the assets of the university along with the rich cultural resources of Southern California.  Our distinctive partnerships with such entities as the Huntington Library, the Getty Research Institute and the Shoah Foundation have brought international visibility to the College, not only strengthening our own academic programs, but enhancing the vitality of the region as well.

The innovative approach we have taken has had a dramatic impact on our ability to attract financial support for our programs and people.  The newly-launched initiatives appeal not only to our traditional base of alumni and parents, but also to an ever-widening constituency of non-USC affiliated community leaders and philanthropists.  As a result, we have seen an astonishing increase in our fundraising from an historical average of $18 million per year to $40 million in 2005 - a milestone we have already surpassed this fiscal year.  Our sponsored research funding has risen by more than 50 percent in the past six years.  These successes have allowed us to provide more support for our faculty, undergraduate education and graduate programs.  Through careful planning and management, the College’s budget is also not only balanced, but boasts a substantial reserve that will serve it well in the future.

Collectively, we have attained a great deal of success.  And while much work remains to be done, the College is poised to move to the next level of excellence.  It has been an honor and privilege to serve the university as Dean of the USC College of Letters, Arts and Sciences during this time of unparalleled expansion.  Therefore, it is with no small measure of emotion that I write to tell you I will leave this position I value so dearly to assume the presidency of Northeastern University in Boston as of August 15, 2006.

As I reflect on what we have accomplished, I cannot help but be profoundly grateful to President Steven B. Sample and former Provost Lloyd Armstrong, Jr., for their unwavering support of the College and of me personally, as well as for the wisdom and guidance they have demonstrated along the way.  I take my leave of the College confident that Provost Max Nikias will continue to cultivate strength and uniqueness in all of our programs while stewarding the College’s outstanding faculty and students.

But it is to you, my friends and colleagues in the College, that I owe the greatest debt of gratitude.  The College has been my home for close to 25 years.  In that time, I have found inspiration in your exceptional talents and keen intelligence, been motivated and challenged by your unyielding insistence on excellence, and been driven by the potential and possibilities I see in the College each and every day.  I treasure what we have been able to build together.  I will not fail to follow your successes going forward.  I thank you for all that you have done and all that you continue to do for our College.

With warmest regards,

Joseph Aoun
Dean of USC College
Anna H. Bing Dean's Chair