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What Matters to Me and Why 2011-2012

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."

Upcoming Speakers

2013-2014 Speakers

2012-2013 Speakers

2010-2011 Speakers

2009-2010 Speakers

Click here to nominate potential speakers

  • Fall 2011 Speakers

  • What Matters to Me & Why with Elizabeth Garrett

    Wednesday, September 7, 2011 Noon
    Ground Zero Performance Cafe

    What matters to the University's second highest ranking officer?
    Elizabeth Garrett is Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at USC, and the Frances R. and John J. Duggan Professor in the USC Gould School of Law. As the university's second-ranking officer, she oversees the USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, as well as the Keck School of Medicine of USC and 16 other professionals schools, in addition to the divisions of student affairs, libraries, information technology services, research, student religious life, and enrollment services. Before entering academics, she clerked for Justice Thurgood Marshall on the U.S. Supreme Court.


  • What Matters to Me & Why with Reverend Cecil "Chip" Murray

    Wednesday, October 5, Noon
    Ground Zero Performance Cafe
    What is important to one of Los Angeles' most influential ministers?
    Rev. Murray holds the John R. Tansey Chair in Christian Ethics at USC and is a senior fellow at the Center for Religion and Civic Culture (CRCC). He also directs Passing the Mantle, a program that trains up-and-coming black ministers in community development. For 27 years, he headed one of Los Angeles' most visible churches, the First African Methodist Episcopal Church (FAME), and under his leadership FAME grew from a small congregation of 250 into an 18,000 person church with multimillion dollar community and economic development programs that brought jobs, housing, and corporate investment into many South Los Angeles neighborhoods.

  • What Matters to Me & Why with Professor Paul Frommer

    Wednesday, November 2, Noon
    Ground Zero Performance Cafe
    Paul Frommer is Professr of Clinical Management Communication at the USC Marshall School of Business.  He is the former Vice President, Special Projects Coordinator, Strategic Planner, and Writer-Researcher of Bentley Industires, Inc., and is the linguistic consultant for a prominent Hollywood film production company.  Professor Frommer is the creator of the Na'vi language featured in James Cameron's epic film Avatar.

  • What Matters to Me & Why with Courtney Surls

    Wednesday, November 30, Noon
    Ground Zero Performance Cafe
    Courtney Surls is Vice President for Development at USC.  She plays a leadership role directing advancement operations and USC's relations with all philanthropic communities, including individual supporters, charitable foundations, corporate donors, alumni, parents and friends.  She joined USC in 2004 as senior associate dean for external relations at the USC Marshall School of Business, where she managed major gift, annual fund, corporate relations, alumni affairs and campaign service units.

  • Spring 2012 Speakers

  • What Matters to Me & Why with Lynn Swartz Dodd

    Wednesday, Janruary 18, Noon - 12:50 PM
    Ground Zero Performance Cafe
    Lynn Dodd teaches Ancient Near Eastern and Egyptian Archaeology. She is Director of the Interdisciplinary Archaeology Undergraduate Major at USC and she directs a major archaeology survey in Turkey in the region around ancient Antioch. She co-organized the Israeli-Palestinian Archaeology Working Group. Professor Dodd was named a Distinguished Faculty Fellow for USC Dornsife in August 2011. She runs ArcSmart a partnership of the Archaeology Research Center at USC and the LA Unified School District, which allows USC undergraduate students to bring artifacts into the classroom to teach hands-on lessons about the past.
  • What Matters To Me & Why: Michael L. Jackson

    Wednesday, February 1, Noon - 12:50 PM
    Ground Zero Performance Cafe
    Michael L. Jackson has been vice president for Student Affairs and professor of higher education in the USC School of Education for the past 16 years at the University of Southern California. Prior to his arrival at USC, he served as dean of students at Stanford University.
    At USC he and his colleagues in Student Affairs are responsible for programs and co-curricular learning and developmental opportunities that enrich the experience for students outside the classroom. He has also overseen the construction of several residential colleges, the Ronald Tutor Campus Center and large-scale fundraising programs to support these projects.
    He received his B.S. in anthropology, with distinction, from Stanford University and his master's and doctorate in higher education administration from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

    Click here to see the video

  • What Matters To Me & Why: Priya Jaikumar

    Wednesday, March 7, Noon - 12:50 PM
    Ground Zero Performance Cafe
    Priya Jaikumar is Associate Professor at the Department of Critical Studies in USC's School of Cinematic Arts. She came to the US in 1991, with a background in Indian broadcasting and print journalism. Priya studies the media (particularly cinema) in relation to the colonial pasts and global presents of India and Britian. She teaches courses at the graduate and undergraduate level on international sound cinema, historical genre films, global media space and cinema, and Bollywood, to name a few topics. Her writings include the book, Cinema at the End of Empire (Duke, 2006), and various essays on film policies, transnational feminism, and postcolonia cinema in various publications. Currently, she is working on a book on location cinematograhy and places that become visual icons, called Where Histories Reside: Filming India as Location.

  • What Matters To Me & Why: Veronica Terriquez

    Wednesday, April 4, Noon - 12:50 PM
    Ground Zero Performance Cafe

    Veronica Terriquez received her Ph.D. in sociology from UCLA. Her research focuses on educational inequality, immigrant integration, and organized labor. Her work is linked to education justice and immigrant rights organizing efforts in Los Angeles. Dr. Terriquez has also worked as a community organizer on school reform and other grassroots campaigns.
    She is currently working on a study of parental engagement in Los Angeles County. Drawing on survey and semi-structured interview data, she seeks to understand how individual parents acquire the confidence, cultural capital, and problem-solving skills to actively participate in school affairs. She is particularly interested in examining how labor and community organizations support various forms of school-based civic participation among Latino immigrants and other racially diverse parents. Dr. Terriquez is also the principal investigator of the California Young Adult Study (CYAS), a mixed-methods investigation of youths' access to postsecondary education, employment, and civic engagement opportunities.