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What Matters to Me and Why

Co-Sponsored by the Office of Religious Life

What Matters to Me and Why is a program that encourages reflection about values, beliefs and motivations. It aims to help students and others better understand the lives and inspirations of those who shape the University.

Presenters are encouraged to talk about choices made, difficulties encountered and commitments solidified. They are also free to choose any other topic that fits their definition of "what matters to me and why."

2013-2014 Speakers

2012-2013 Speakers

2011-2012 Speakers                                                       Watch Past Speakers on YouTube

2010-2011 Speakers                                                       Click here to nominate potential speakers

2009-2010 Speakers

  • Spring 2015

  • What Matters to Me and Why with Erin Quinn

                              Wednesday, January 21, 2015, 12 PM  
    Ground Zero Performance Cafe | Lunch Served

                                                                Erin Quinn is the Associate Dean for Science and Health at the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences. She has played a key role in medical education at USC for more than 30 years, serving as dean of admissions at the Keck School of Medicine of USC from 1998 to 2011, associate dean for women from 1993 to 1998, and assistant professor of clinical family medicine since 1991. Her love of undergraduate teaching led her to become the course director and core professor of USC’s baccalaureate/M.D. program for 16 years. She holds a master’s of public administration in health services administration and a Ph.D. in health services and gerontology from USC, as well as an undergraduate degree in political science and biology from Bennington College.

  • What Matters to Me and Why with John Brooks Slaughter

    Wednesday, February 4, 2015, 12 PM  
    Ground Zero Performance Cafe | Lunch Served

                                                                John Brooks Slaughter joined the Rossier School of Education in January 2010 as Professor of Education, with a joint appointment at the Viterbi School of Engineering. He has had remarkably distinguished career, which began as an electrical engineer and includes leading two universities and heading the National Science Foundation (NSF) as its first African American director. Before joining USC, he served as President of Occidental College for 11 years and transformed the school into the most diverse liberal arts college in the United States. He holds honorary degrees from more than 25 institutions, and he has received numerous national and an international awards and recognitions, including the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Award.

  • What Matters to Me and Why with Catherine Quinlan

    Wednesday, March 4, 2015, 12 PM  
    Ground Zero Performance Cafe | Lunch Served

                                                       Catherine Quinlan is the Dean of the Libraries at the University of Southern California, where she is also a senior administrator for the Sidney Harman Academy of Polymathic Study. She is responsible for guiding the university’s efforts to establish the model for the 21st-century library by providing leadership for USC’s library staff; collaborating with other university deans, faculty and friends to optimize and develop resources for scholars; and building partnerships with art, museum and library institutions throughout Southern California. She came to USC after a decade at the University of British Columbia (UBC), where she headed a library system encompassing 300 full-time staff members and more than 21 sites.

  • What Matters to Me and Why with Allen Weiss

                              Wednesday, April 1, 2015, 12 PM 
    Ground Zero Performance Cafe | Lunch Served

                                                                         Allen Weiss is Professor of Marketing in the Marshall School of Business at USC, where he teaches courses on Internet marketing and personal leadership. He is also the co-chair of Mindful USC and a senior teacher at InsightLA, where he has taught mindfulness meditation and an introduction to Buddhist psychology since 2006.  He is a graduate from Spirit Rock's Dedicated Practitioner's Program and regularly attends retreats at both Spirit Rock and the Insight Meditation Society. Prior to USC, he was on the faculty at Stanford University, and prior to his academic life, he was a professional musician. He is currently the CEO of MarketingProfs, LLC.

  • Fall 2014

  • What Matters to Me and Why with Jeremy Kagan

    Jeremy Kagan               Wednesday, September 3, 2014, 12 PM  
    Ground Zero Performance Cafe | Lunch Served


    Jeremy Kagan is a Professor in the School of Cinematic Arts and the founder of the Change Making Media Lab at USC.  An Emmy award winning director, writer and producer of feature films and television, he has been on the National Board of the Directors Guild of America and is Chairperson of its Special Projects Committee, which provides cultural and educational programs for its 15000 membeers.  Click here to see the video

  • What Matters to Me and Why with Sherman Jackson

    Wednesday, October 1, 2014, 12 PM   
    Ground Zero Performance Cafe | Lunch Served

                                                                 Named one of the 500 most influential Muslims in the world by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center, Professor Sherman Jackson speaks about what is important to him in this second program of the series. Sherman Jackson holds the King Faisal Chair in Islamic Thought and Culture and is a Professor of Religion and American Studies and Ethnicity at USC.  His research interests focus on issues of race, immigration, liberalism, democracy, religion in the modern world, pluralism, and constitutionalism.

  • What Matters to Me and Why with Diane Winston

                        Wednesday, November 5, 2014, 12 PM   
    Ground Zero Performance Cafe | Lunch Served

                                                                      What is important to a national authority on media and religion?  Join us for a talk with Diane Winston and learn more. Diane Winston holds the Knight Chair in Media and Religion at the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism.  A national authority on religion and the media as both a journalist and a scholar, her expertise includes religion, politics and the news media as well as religion and the entertainment media.  Her articles have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post and the Chronicle of High EducationClick here to see the video

  • What Matters to Me and Why with Urbashi Mitra

              Wednesday, December 3, 2014, 12 PM   
    Ground Zero Performance Cafe | Lunch Served

                                                                     Join us for the final program of the semester. Urbashi Mitra from Electrical Engineering shares what is important to her. Urbashi Mitra is a Professor of Electrical Engineering at the Viterbi School of Engineering. Her research interests include multi-user detection theory, wireless communications, underwater acoustic communications, and sensor networks.  She has held visiting positions at Delft University of Technology, Stanford University, Rice University, and the Eurecom Institute.  Click here to see the video