University of Southern California

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Template:Infobox University2 The University of Southern California (also known as USC, 'SC, Southern California, and Southern Cal), California's oldest private research university, is located in the urban center of Los Angeles, California.


Founded in 1880 as a Methodist University, on land donated by three wealthy Los Angeles residents, it has grown to international prominence. The university opened with an enrollment of 53 students and a faculty of 10. Its first graduating class in 1884 was a class of three - two males and a female valedictorian. The University is no longer a Methodist institution, having ended formal ties with the church several decades ago; it is currently not religiously affiliated.

USC has grown substantially since its founding. Besides its main campus ("University Park Campus"), which lies about 2 miles southwest of downtown Los Angeles, the university also operates the Health Sciences Campus about 2 miles northeast of downtown; an Orange County center in Irvine for business, pharmacy, social work and education; and the Information Sciences Institute, with centers in Arlington, Virginia and Marina del Rey. The School of Policy, Planning, and Development also runs a satellite campus in Sacramento. In 2005, USC established a federal relations office in Washington, D.C.. There is also a Health Sciences Alhambra campus which holds The Institute for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Research (IPR) and the Masters in Public Health Program. USC went international in 2004, when it collaborated with Shanghai Jiao Tong University to offer the USC (Executive) EMBA program in Shanghai.

USC's nickname is the Trojan, epitomized in the statue of Tommy Trojan near the center of campus. Until 1912, USC students (especially athletes) were known as Methodists or Wesleyans, though neither name was approved by the university. Following a fateful track and field meet with Stanford University, which USC lost tremendously, sportswriter Owen Bird reported that the USC athletes "fought like Trojans," and the president of the university at the time, George Bovard, approved the name officially.

The University Park Campus

The Trojan Shrine (affectionately referred to as Tommy Trojan)

The University Park campus is in the West Adams district of South Los Angeles, 2 miles southwest of Downtown Los Angeles. The campus' boundaries are Jefferson Boulevard on the north and northeast, Figueroa Street on the southeast, Exposition Boulevard on the south, and Vermont Avenue on the west. Since the 1960s, through campus vehicle traffic has been banned. The University Park campus is in close proximity to Los Angeles landmarks such as the Shrine Auditorium, Staples Center, and Los Angeles Coliseum. A popular spot for filmmakers, it has stood in for such institutions as Harvard and UC Berkeley in movies and on television. Most buildings are in the Romanesque style, although some dormitories, engineering buildings, and physical sciences labs are of various Modernist styles (especially two large Brutalist dormitories at the campus' northern edge) that sharply contrast with the predominantly red-brick campus. Beautifully landscaped courtyards and parks provide a welcome contrast from the urban environment outside the campus.

USC's role in making visible and sustained improvements in the neighborhoods surrounding both the University Park and Health Sciences campuses earned it the distinction of College of the Year 2000 by the TIME/Princeton Review College Guide. Roughly half of the university's students volunteer in community-service programs in neighborhoods around campus and throughout Los Angeles. These outreach programs, as well as previous administrations' commitment to remaining in South Los Angeles amid widespread calls to move the campus following the 1965 Watts Riots, are credited for the safety of the university during the 1992 Los Angeles Riots. (That the university emerged from the riots completely unscathed is all the more remarkable in light of the complete destruction of several strip malls in the area, including one just across Vermont Avenue from the campus' western entrance.)

USC's most recent fund-raising drive raised nearly $2.9 billion, which is the largest total of any academic fund-raising drive in the history of higher education. (Columbia University, with $2.6 billion, placed second; Harvard University, with $2.2 billion, placed third.) USC and its partner institutions have recently completed or soon will be constructing 27 new buildings, which will provide nearly 8.1 million square feet (750,000 m²) of new space for research, teaching, patient care, and enrichment of student life.


The following figures are accurate as of the 2004-2005 academic year.

USC has a total enrollment of 32,160 students, of which 15,686 are at the postgraduate level. 350 postdoctoral fellows are supported along with 900 medical residents. There are currently 4,390 faculty and about 14,000 support staff. There are roughly 180,000 living USC alumni. The university has attracted more international students over the years than any other American university. Currently, about 10 percent of USC's students represent over 115 countries. The USC Alumni Association has more than 200,000 current members.

The male:female ratio at USC is nearly 1:1, and about 45% of new students come from out of state. The ethnic breakdown of undergraduates is:


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Annenberg School for Communication
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Pertusati University Bookstore
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Norris Theater (USC School of Cinema-Television)
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Biegler Hall of Engineering, west wall (Viterbi School of Engineering)

The University of Southern California is well known for its outstanding professional schools in law, medicine, business, engineering, journalism, public policy, and architecture, as well as for its world-renowned School of Cinema-Television. Currently, USC ranks among the top 10 private universities receiving federal funds for research and development support and in the top 20 among all universities in the United States. The Center at the University of Florida ranks USC 12th in the Top American Research Universities. The incoming freshman class for the 2005 fall term had an average GPA of 4.05 out of 4 and an average SAT score of 1368 out of 1600. USC is a longtime member of the Association of American Universities and is the oldest private research university in the American West.

The School of Cinema-Television, the first in the country and perhaps USC's most famous wing, confers degrees in critical studies, screenwriting, and production. In 2001, the film school added an Interactive Media Division studying video games, virtual reality, and mobile media. The school is supported by its famous alumni, whose ranks include such well-known graduates as George Lucas, Ron Howard, Robert Zemeckis, John Milius, Ben Burtt, and David Wolper.

A Department of Architecture was established at USC within the School of Fine Arts in 1916, the first in Southern California. This small department grew rapidly with the help of the Allied Architects of Los Angeles. A separate School of Architecture was organized in September 1925. The School of Architecture is world famous for its strong focus on the design aspect of the architectural field. The school has been home to teachers such as Richard Neutra, Ralph Knowles, A. Quincy Jones, William Pereira and Pierre Koening. The school of architecture is also home to notable alumni Frank Gehry, Thom Mayne, Gregory Ain, and Pierre Koening. The school has two Pritzker Prize winners, the highest award in architecture (often referred to as "the Nobel of architecture"), and is tied with Yale for the most American winners.

The Annenberg School for Communication is among the best in the nation, being one of the two communication programs in the country endowed by Walter Annenberg (the other is at the University of Pennsylvania). The school of journalism features a core curriculum that requires students to devote themselves equally to print, broadcast and online media for the first year of study. This approach promises a breadth of knowledge across various journalistic media. USC's Annenberg School for Communication enjoys a massive endowment.

On March 02, 2004, the USC School of Engineering, headed by Dean Max Nikias, was renamed to the Andrew and Erna Viterbi School of Engineering. This was done to honor Qualcomm founder Andrew Viterbi and his wife Erna, who had recently donated $52 million to the school. The gift was the largest ever to rename an existing school of engineering.

USC was ranked "most selective" [1] and 30th [2] overall in the country by U.S. News & World Report's America's Best Colleges in 2006. The 2006 U.S. News & World Report's America's Best Graduate Schools ranked the Viterbi School of Engineering as 7th, the School of Policy, Planning, and Development as 7th, the Leventhal School of Accounting as 7th, the Marshall School of Business as 26th (Undergraduate 9th, Executive MBA 9th, Professionals and Managers (part-time) MBA Program 5th, Entrepreneurship 6th, and International 10th), and the Law School as 18th. The School of Cinema-Television and the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy are ranked number 1 in the nation.

Academic Subdivisions

USC's academic departments fall either under the general liberal arts and sciences of the College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences for undergraduates, or The Graduate School for graduates, or the university's 18 professional schools. A full listing of academic subdivisions follows alphabetically by subject:


USC participates in the NCAA Division I-A Pacific Ten Conference. USC's cross-town rival is UCLA, with whom there is fierce athletic and scholastic competition. However USC has a traditionally older rivalry with Notre Dame that predates that with UCLA. The Notre Dame rivalry stems mainly from the annual football game played between these two universities; this is considered the greatest cross-country rivalry of college football. The USC Football team has been voted at least a portion of the National Championship 11 times, placing the program among the top of all historical programs. The Pro Football Hall of Fame counts USC tied with Notre Dame as the university with the most Hall of Famers, 10.

There have been more Trojans in the Olympics than from any other university in the world - in fact, if USC were its own nation in the Olympics, it would rank in the top 20 in the world in gold medals earned. Trojan men's teams are tops in the nation in NCAA championships with 72 - more than any other university. Including the women's teams, USC has won 83 national team titles.

Men's NCAA National Title

USC McDonalds Swim Stadium

Women's NCAA National Title

The Marching Band

USC is also known for its marching band, known as The Spirit of Troy, which also calls itself The Greatest Marching Band in the History of the Universe. The band has been featured in at least 10 major movies. The band performed in the 1932 and 1984 summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles, in addition to their appearances in movies, television shows, and performances with other musicians.

The band was notable in the late 1970's for its appearance on the title track of the 1979 Fleetwood Mac album Tusk, for which the band was awarded two platinum records. No other marching band has earned a platinum record.

Recently, the band produced an instrumental version of the popular song "The Kids Aren't Alright" and "Hit That," both by The Offspring (whose lead singer is a USC alumnus), and appeared with OutKast at the 2004 Grammy Awards in their hit song "Hey Ya!".

Club sports


As the second-oldest university in California, the University of Southern California has a long and storied history resulting in a number of modern traditions, some of which are outlined here:

  • The colors of USC are cardinal and gold, which were approved by USC's third president, Rev. George W. White in 1895.
  • USC's official fight song is Fight On, which was composed in 1922 by USC dental student Milo Sweet (with lyrics by Sweet and Glen Grant).
  • The Trojan Shrine, better known as 'Tommy Trojan', is a bronze statue located at the center of campus, and an integral figure in school pride, embodying the ideas of a Trojan: Faithful, Scholarly, Skillful, Courageous, and Ambitious.
  • Traveler, a majestic white horse, has been the USC mascot since 1961. Mounted by a rider dressed as a Trojan warrior, Traveler gallops around the field at every home football game whenever USC scores.
  • Prior to Traveler, making his first football game appearance in 1940, USC's mascot was a campus mutt called George Tirebiter that went around campus chasing cars.
  • Spectators walking from campus to the Coliseum and back kick the base of one of the flag poles at the edge of campus on Exposition Boulevard to ensure good luck for the football team at their next game.
  • The week preceding the annual football matchup with UCLA is known as "Troy Week" and features a number of traditions including Save Tommy Night, the Troy Week Bonfire, and all-night vigils by the Trojan Knights to protect the campus from Bruins.


The University of Southern California is part-time host to two traveling trophies. The first is the Victory Bell, which goes to the winner of the UCLA-USC football game, and is zealously guarded by the Trojan Knights while in USC's possession. The second is the Jeweled Shillelagh, a gaelic war club passed between the victor in the Notre Dame-USC football match, which is kept on display in Heritage Hall. The Shillelagh is adorned with Trojan heads and Shamrocks correlating to victories by both schools.


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The George Finley Bovard Administration Building

USC is a private corporation, and is ultimately controlled by a Board of Trustees, with roughly 50 voting members and several Life Trustees, Honorary Trustees, and Trustees Emeritus who do not vote. Voting members of the Board of Trustees are elected for five-year terms. One fifth of the Trustees stand for re-election each year, and votes are cast only by the Trustees not standing for election. Trustees tend to be high-ranking executives of large corporations (both domestic and international), successful alumni, members of the upper echelons of university administration or some combination of the three.

The university administration consists of a President, a Provost, several Vice Presidents of various departments, a treasurer, a Chief Information Officer, and an athletic director. The President is Steven B. Sample and the Provost is C.L. Max Nikias.

The College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences, The Graduate School, and the 18 Professional Schools are each lead by an Academic Dean.

USC occasionally awards emeritus titles to former administrators. There are currently six Administrators Emeritus.

Student Government

The Program Board sponsors the USC Springfest, held annually in McCarthy Quad

USC annually elects members to a Student Senate, which is incorporated with the USC Student Affairs department. The Senate President and Vice-President are currently Jessica Lall and Chase Tajima, elected in the spring of 2005.

Modeled after the United States government, the Student Sentate consists of executive, legislative, and judicial branches, along with a programming branch (commonly referred to as "Program Board"). The executive branch consists of students appointed by the elected leadership and is charged with coordinating publications, events, and efforts to solve problems voiced by the student body. The legislative branch, the only branch fully elected by the students, represents the voice of the student body to university officials and legislates changes to some limited aspects of university policy. The judicial branch ensures that all operations within Student Senate are within the bounds of the organization's governing documentation.

The programming branch, referred to as "Program Board," aims to provide USC students with education and information through a multitude of social, political, and entertaining events. Assemblies and committees, in conjunction with elected and appointed Senate representatives, attempt to program these events in line with the desires of the paying student body. All Student Senate activities are funded by the student activity fee, which the Senate itself has some control over setting.

Campus Renovations

The majority of USC undergraduates live on campus or in the North University Park area bounded by Vermont Avenue, Jefferson Boulevard, Figueroa Street, and Adams Boulevard. Public transportation connections to the university are plentiful and relatively cheap; nevertheless, the disdain held by many Angelenos for mass transit means that most students drive to school. On-campus parking structures rarely have spaces, and street parking is generally impossible. Moreover, the USC Parking Center, across the Harbor Freeway (I-110) from campus and connected to the campus by shuttle bus, is also frequently close to full. Construction of off-campus parking structures, including one at Jefferson Boulevard and Flower Street and another at Exposition Boulevard and Figueroa Street, is an integral component of the university's ambitious capital improvement campaign.

The dormitories on campus have gone through sporadic renovations with such improvements as all rooms having direct university T3 access and card reader abilities. The entire campus itself underwent some renovations in the summer of 2001.

Leavey Library (left) and Birnkrant Residential College, a dormitory (right)

A new fountain was built in front of Leavey Library. A large area (formerly a parking lot, basketball courts, picnic area, and volleyball court) was converted into open land with walkways and scattered trees. This was in the vision of President Sample who wants to open up the campus and make it feel more 'free.' Sample also had building markers changed to more professional signs. In late 1998, USC cardinal bricks were placed in the crosswalks in the streets surrounding the university. Around this same time there were some minor improvements in University Village (the name for the area and shops surrounding USC). The University Village includes restaurants, a movie theater, an arcade, a salon, and a bank. The Doheny Library and Commons area also went under structural renovations. This was due in part to the 1994 Northridge earthquake which damaged the buildings. The renovations lasted a couple years. The USC track was also redone with new bleachers being installed and various aesthetic improvements. The USC entrance way adjacent to the registration and admissions building was drastically redesigned. Most of the changes have made the spotty city like architecture (a relic of the 70's and 80's) on campus evolve into more academic like architecture to allow for better contrast with the older buildings. Overall, the campus is changing and expanding. Soon, USC students will have many new buildings including the much anticipated Galen Center.

Notable alumni, faculty, and students

See List of University of Southern California people

External links


  • During the week prior to the traditional USC-UCLA rivalry football game, the Tommy Trojan statue is covered in duct tape, to prevent the spraypainting of UCLA colors on the statue, as was commonplace several decades ago.

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de:University of Southern California eo:Universitato de Suda Kalifornio fr:Université de la Californie du Sud ja:南カリフォルニア大学 sv:University of Southern California tr:University of Southern California