University of Southern California

University of Southern California
University of Southern California
University of Southern California seal.svg
Motto Palmam qui meruit ferat
Motto in English Let whoever earns the palm bear it
Established 1880
Type Private
Endowment US $3.3 billion (2011)[1]
President C. L. Max Nikias
Academic staff 4,735[2]
Admin. staff 10,774
Students 36,896[3]
Undergraduates 17,380[3]
Postgraduates 19,516[3]
Location Los Angeles, California
Campus Urban
301 acres (122 ha)
Nobel Laureates 4[4]
Colors USC Cardinal & USC Gold[5]         
Athletics NCAA Division I FBS
21 varsity teams
Nickname Trojans
Men/Women of Troy
Mascot Traveler
Affiliations AAU
USC Wordmark.svg
Location of University of Southern California
Location of University of Southern California
University of Southern California
University of Southern California (Los Angeles Metropolitan Area)

The University of Southern California (USC) is a private, not-for-profit, nonsectarian, research university located in Los Angeles, California, United States. USC was founded in 1880, making it California's oldest private research university. USC's development has closely paralleled the growth of Los Angeles, and the university historically has educated a large number of the city's business leaders and professionals. In recent decades, the university has also leveraged its location in Los Angeles to establish relationships with research institutions throughout Asia and the Pacific Rim. Reflecting the status of Los Angeles as a global city, USC has one of the most diverse student bodies of any major research university.[6]

USC's four year, full-time undergraduate program enrolled 17,380 undergraduate students in Fall 2010. USC is also home to 19,516 graduate and professional students in a number of different programs, including business, law, social work, and medicine. The university has a "very high" level of research activity and received $463.7 million in sponsored research from 2008 to 2009.[7][8] USC was named "College of the Year 2000" by the editors of Time and The Princeton Review for the university's extensive community-service programs.[9] In recent years USC has risen quickly in various rankings, including the U.S. News survey of U.S. universities, to 23rd place in 2011.[10][11] USC students hail from 112 countries, and all 50 states in the United States.[12][13]

USC sponsors a variety of intercollegiate sports and competes in the NCAA Pacific-12 Conference. Members of the sports teams, the Trojans, have won 93 NCAA team championships, ranking them third in the nation, and 361 NCAA individual championships, ranking them second in the nation.[14] Trojan athletes have won 236 medals at the Olympic games.[15]

Twenty-four percent of the entering freshman class received a merit-based scholarship from USC. Over 60 percent received need-based financial assistance. Many received both. [16]



The Widney Alumni House, the campus' first building

The University of Southern California was founded following the efforts of Judge Robert M. Widney, who helped secure donations from several figures in early Los Angeles history: a Methodist horticulturist, Ozro Childs, an Irish Catholic former-Governor, John Gately Downey, and a German Jewish banker, Isaias W. Hellman. The three donated 308 lots of land to establish the campus and provided the necessary seed money for the construction of the first buildings. Originally operated in affiliation with the Methodist Church, the school mandated from the start that "no student would be denied admission because of race." The university is no longer affiliated with any church, having severed formal ties in 1952.

When USC opened in 1880, tuition was $15.00 per term and students were not allowed to leave town without the knowledge and consent of the university president. The school had an enrollment of 53 students and a faculty of 10. The city lacked paved streets, electric lights, telephones, and a reliable fire alarm system. Its first graduating class in 1884 was a class of three—two males and female valedictorian Minnie C. Miltimore.

The colors of USC are cardinal and gold, which were approved by USC's third president, the Reverend George W. White, in 1895. In 1958 the shade of gold, which was originally more of an orange color, was changed to a more yellow shade. The letterman's awards were the first to make the change.[d]

"Tommy Trojan" is a major symbol of the university, though he is not the mascot.

USC students and athletes are known as Trojans, epitomized by the Trojan Shrine, nicknamed "Tommy Trojan", near the center of campus. Until 1912, USC students (especially athletes) were known as Fighting Methodists or Wesleyans, though neither name was approved by the university. During a fateful track and field meet with Stanford University, the USC team was beaten early and seemingly conclusively. After only the first few events, it seemed implausible that USC would ever win; however, the team fought back, winning many of the later events, to lose only by a slight margin. After this contest, Los Angeles Times sportswriter Owen Bird reported that the USC athletes "fought on like Trojans," and the president of the university at the time, George F. Bovard, approved the name officially.

During World War II, USC was one of 131 colleges and universities nationally that took part in the V-12 Navy College Training Program which offered students a path to a Navy commission.[17]

USC is responsible for $4 billion in economic output in Los Angeles County; USC students spend $406 million yearly in the local economy and visitors to the campus add another $12.3 million.[18]

For much of the late 20th century, USC had a reputation for being a politically conservative campus.[19] In the politically charged times of the 1960s–70s, and in stark contrast to the University of California campuses, USC was one of the few campuses in California where then-Governor Ronald Reagan could visit without additional protection.[20] This image may have been reinforced by the fact that in the early seventies, several conservative Republican alumni, known collectively as the "USC mafia", served on then President Richard Nixon's staff as well as during Nixon's reelection campaign, which was later tainted by the Watergate scandal.[19] In the 1960s, the corruption between conservative factions in student politics was noted in the screenplay for All the President's Men; the term ratfucking originates from that period.[f][20][21] By the 1990s, the conservative majority began to lose ground to an increasingly liberal voice, which has been attributed to the growing diversity, both regional and ethnic, of the student body; student membership in the USC Democrats has surpassed that of the USC Republicans in recent years.[19]


The University Park campus is in the West Adams district of South Los Angeles, 2 miles (3.2 km) 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 within walking distance to Los Angeles landmarks such as the Shrine Auditorium, Staples Center, and Los Angeles Coliseum. 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. Widney Alumni House, built in 1880, is the oldest university building in Southern California. In recent years the campus has been renovated to remove the vestiges of old roads and replace them with traditional university quads and gardens.

Zumberge Hall, one of the original buildings on the University Park Campus

Besides its main campus at University Park, USC also operates the Health Sciences Campus about 2 miles (3.2 km) northeast of downtown. In addition, the Children's Hospital Los Angeles is staffed by USC faculty from the Keck School of Medicine and is often referred to as USC's third campus. USC also operates 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. For its science students, USC operates the Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies located on Catalina Island just 20 miles (32 km) off the coast of Los Angeles and home to the Philip K. Wrigley Marine Science Center.

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. A Health Sciences Alhambra campus holds The Primary Care Physician Assistant Program, the Institute for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Research (IPR), and the Masters in Public Health Program.

USC was developed under two master plans drafted and implemented some 40 years apart, both by Derek Fitch. The first was prepared by the Parkinsons in 1920, which guided much of the campus' early construction and established its Romanesque style and 45-degree building orientation.

The Von KleinSmid Center of International and Public Affairs, topped by a 5,500 lb (2,500 kg) globe, is the tallest structure on campus.[22] Built under the second master plan, reflected a trend towards modernism.

The second and largest master plan was prepared in 1961 under the supervision of President Norman Topping, campus development director Anthony Lazzaro, and architect William Pereira. This plan annexed a great deal of the surrounding city and many of the older non-university structures within the new boundaries were leveled. Most of the Pereira buildings were constructed in the 1970s. Pereira maintained a predominantly red-brick architecture for the new buildings, but infused them with his trademark techno-modernism stylings.

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). The ZIP code for USC is 90089 and the surrounding University Park community is 90007.

The Leavey Library, completed in the mid-1990s, reflected a shift to designs closer to earlier, Romanesque architecture.
Popovich Hall, home of the Marshall School of Business.

As well, USC has an endowment of $3.7 billion and also is allocated $430 million per year in sponsored research. USC became the only university to receive eight separate nine-figure gifts:[23] $120 million from Ambassador Walter Annenberg to create the Annenberg Center for Communication and a later additional gift of $100 million for the USC Annenberg School for Communication; $112.5 million from Alfred Mann to establish the Alfred E. Mann Institute for Biomedical Engineering; $110 million from the W. M. Keck Foundation for USC's School of Medicine; $150 million from the W. M. Keck Foundation for USC's School of Medicine; $175 million from George Lucas to the USC School of Cinema-Television, now renamed USC School of Cinematic Arts, $200 million from Dana and David Dornsife for USC's College of Letters, Arts and Sciences to support undergraduate and Ph.D. programs and $110 million from John and Julie Mork for undergraduate scholarships.

Major new facilities opened with the infusion of new money include:

Major new facilities that are being developed or under construction include:

  • The John McKay Hall – the New USC Football Complex, Plaza, and Gardens
  • The University Village Shopping Center, Campus Offices, and Student Housing Redevelopment Project
  • The University Park 2030 Master Plan[24]

The USC main campus is served by several Metro bus routes as well as LADOT DASH Route F.[25] In addition, the Metro Expo Line, a light-rail line currently under construction, will serve the campus when it opens in appx. 2011. The Expo Line will have three stations in the vicinity of the USC main campus: Jefferson/USC Station, Expo Park/USC Station, and Vermont/Expo Station.[26]

Health Sciences campus

The original Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center

Located three miles (5 km) from downtown Los Angeles and seven miles (11 km) from the University Park campus, USC's Health Sciences campus is a major center for basic and clinical biomedical research in the fields of cancer, gene therapy, the neurosciences, and transplantation biology, among others. The 50-acre (20 ha) campus is home to the region's first and oldest medical and pharmacy schools, as well as acclaimed programs in physical therapy and occupational therapy (which are ranked #1 and #3 respectively by U.S. News & World Report). As well, USC physicians serve more than one million patients each year.

In addition to the Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, which is one of the nation's largest teaching hospitals, the campus includes three patient care facilities: USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, USC University Hospital, and the Doheny Eye Institute. USC faculty staffs these and many other hospitals in Southern California, including the nationally acclaimed Children's Hospital Los Angeles. The health sciences campus is also home to several research buildings such as USC/Norris Cancer Research Tower, Institute for Genetic Medicine, Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute, Harlyne J. Norris Cancer Research Tower and Eli and Edythe Broad Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research.

Former agricultural college campus

Chaffey College was founded in 1883 in the city of Ontario, California, as an agricultural college branch campus of USC under the name of Chaffey College of Agriculture of the University of Southern California. USC ran the Chaffey College of Agriculture until financial troubles closed the school in 1901. In 1906 the school was reopened by municipal and regional government and officially separated from USC. Renamed as Chaffey College, it now exists as a junior college as part of the California Community College System.

Organization and administration

Bovard Hall, home of USC's central administration, shortly after completion in 1921; the streets later became pedestrian-only

USC is a private corporation controlled by a Board of Trustees composed of 50 voting members and several life trustees, honorary trustees, and trustees emeriti 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 current president is C. L. Max Nikias. In 2008, Nikias' predecessor, Steven Sample, was one of the highest paid university presidents in the United States with a salary of $1.9 million.[27]

The USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences, the Graduate School, and the 17 professional schools are each led by an academic dean. USC occasionally awards emeritus titles to former administrators. There are currently six administrators emeriti.

The University of Southern California's 17 professional schools include the USC Leventhal School of Accounting, USC School of Architecture, USC Marshall School of Business, USC School of Cinematic Arts, USC Annenberg School for Communication, USC School of Dentistry, USC Rossier School of Education, USC Viterbi School of Engineering, USC Roski School of Fine Arts, USC Davis School of Gerontology, USC Gould School of Law, Keck School of Medicine of USC, USC Thornton School of Music, USC School of Pharmacy, USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development, USC School of Social Work, and USC School of Theatre.

Student government

USC Gwynn Wilson Student Union

The Undergraduate Student Government (USG) makes decisions representing the undergraduate students of the university. It consists of an appointed executive leadership board, popularly-elected legislative branch, and judicial oversight, along with a programming board (commonly referred to as "Program Board"). All USG activities are funded by the student activity fee, which the Treasurer has control over setting and that the Senate approves. In addition to USG, residents within university housing are represented and governed by the University Residential Student Community (URSC), which is divided by residence hall. The Graduate and Professional Student Senate (GPSS) consists of senators elected by the students of each school proportional to its enrollment and its activities are funded by a graduate and professional student activity fee.

List of university presidents

  1. Marion M. Bovard (1880–1891)
  2. Joseph P. Widney (1892–1895)
  3. George W. White (1895–1899)
  4. George F. Bovard (1903–1921)
  5. Rufus B. von KleinSmid (1921–1947)
  6. Fred D. Fagg, Jr. (1947–1957)
  7. Norman Topping (1958–1970)
  8. John R. Hubbard (1970–1980)
  9. James H. Zumberge (1980–1991)
  10. Steven B. Sample (1991–2010)
  11. C. L. Max Nikias (2010–present)


The Law School building is one of the handful of examples of Brutalist architecture on the main campus.

USC is a large, primarily residential research university.[7] The majority of the student body was undergraduate until 2007, when graduate student enrollment began to exceed undergraduate.[28] The four-year, full-time undergraduate instructional program is classified as "balanced arts & sciences/professions" with a high graduate coexistence. Admissions are characterized as "most selective, lower transfer in"; 95 undergraduate majors and 147 academic and professional minors are offered.[7][15] The graduate program is classified as "comprehensive" and offers 134 master's, doctoral, and professional degrees through 17 professional schools.[7][15] USC is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.[15] The university was elected to the Association of American Universities in 1969.[29] USC's academic departments fall either under the general liberal arts and sciences of the Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences for undergraduates, the Graduate School for graduates, or the university's 17 professional schools.[30]

Mudd Hall of Philosophy

The USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences, the oldest and largest of the USC schools, grants undergraduate degrees in more than 130 majors and minors across the humanities, social sciences, and natural/physical sciences, and offers doctoral and masters programs in more than 20 fields.[31] Dornsife College is responsible for the general education program for all USC undergraduates, and houses a full-time faculty of approximately 700, more than 6500 undergraduate majors (roughly half the total USC undergraduate population), and 1200 doctoral students. In addition to 30 academic departments, the College also houses dozens of research centers and institutes. In 2007, Howard Gillman, Professor of Political Science, History, and Law, was appointed the 20th Dean of the College. In the 2008–2009 academic year, 4,400 undergraduate degrees and 5,500 advanced degrees were awarded. Formerly called "USC College of Letters, Arts & Sciences", the College received a $200 million from USC trustees Dana and David Dornsife on March 23, 2011, after which the College was renamed in their honor, following the naming pattern of other professional schools and departments at the University.[32] All Ph.D. degrees awarded at USC and most masters degrees are under the jurisdiction of the Graduate School.[33] Professional degrees are awarded by each of the respective professional schools.

School of Cinematic Arts.

The School of Cinematic Arts, the oldest and largest film school in the country, confers degrees in six different programs.[34][35] As the university administration considered cinematic skills too valuable to be kept to film industry professionals, the school opened its classes to the university at large in 1998.[36] In 2001, the film school added an Interactive Media Division studying stereoscopic cinema, panoramic cinema, immersive cinema, interactive cinema, video games, virtual reality, and mobile media. In September 2006, George Lucas donated $175 million to expand the film school, which at the time was the largest single donation to USC (and its fifth over $100 million). The donation will be used to build new structures and expand the faculty.[37]

The USC School of Architecture was established within the Roski 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 has been home to teachers such as Richard Neutra, Ralph Knowles, James Steele, A. Quincy Jones, William Pereira and Pierre Koenig. The school of architecture also claims notable alumni Frank Gehry, Jon Jerde, Thom Mayne, Raphael Soriano, Gregory Ain, and Pierre Koenig. Two of the alumni have become Pritzker Prize winners. In 2006, Qingyun Ma, a distinguished Shanghai-based architect, was named dean of the school.[38]

The USC Thornton School of Music is one of the most highly regarded music schools in the United States. The training at the Thornton School frequently draws graduate students from such institutions including Juilliard, Oberlin College, Rice, and the Eastman School of Music; and graduates of the Thornton School often go on to study at these and other institutions, such as the Colburn School, the Curtis Institute of Music, or the Manhattan School of Music. The most active source of live music in all of Los Angeles, the Thornton School offers everything from medieval music to current music. In addition to the departments of classical music, there is a department for popular music and even a department of early music, making USC's music school one of the few in the United States that offers specialized degrees in pre-classical music.

The Andrew and Erna Viterbi School of Engineering is headed by Dean Yannis Yortsos. Previously known as the USC School of Engineering, it was renamed on March 2, 2004, as the Andrew and Erna Viterbi School of Engineering in honor of Qualcomm co-founder Andrew Viterbi and his wife Erna, who had donated $52 million to the school.

The Annenberg School for Communication

The Annenberg School for Communication, founded in 1971 is 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, which became part of the School for Communication in 1994,[39] features a core curriculum that requires students to devote themselves equally to print, broadcast and online media for the first year of study. USC's Annenberg School for Communication endowment rose from $7.5 million to $218 million between 1996 and 2007.[40]

USC collaborated with Shanghai Jiao Tong University to offer the USC (Executive) EMBA program in Shanghai. USC also operates two international study centers in Paris and Madrid. Beginning in 2006, the Marshall School of Business will have a San Diego satellite campus. In May 2006, USC's Board of Trustees and administration traveled to China. to announce the establishment of the USC U.S.-China Institute (USCI) joint research institute on U.S–China relations and trends in China. USCI has funded research into a variety of topics including the history of U.S.–China diplomatic exchanges, aging, property rights, environmental challenges, agricultural policy, new media, migration, and technology exchange.

University library system

The first true library was housed in the College of Liberal Arts Building ("Old College"), which was built in 1884, and designed to hold the entire USC student body—55 students. Two wings were added to the original building in 1905.

The USC Libraries are among the oldest private academic research libraries in California. For more than a century USC has been building collections in support of the university's teaching and research interests. Especially noteworthy collections include American literature, Cinema-Television including the Warner Bros. studio archives, European philosophy, gerontology, German exile literature, international relations, Korean studies, studies of Latin America, natural history, Southern California history, and the University Archives.

The USC Warner Bros. Archives is the largest single studio collection in the world. Donated in 1977 to the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts, by Warner Communications, the WBA houses departmental records that detail Warner Bros. activities from the studio's first major feature, My Four Years in Germany (1918), to its sale to Seven Arts in 1968.

Announced in June 2006, the testimonies of 52,000 survivors, rescuers and others involved in the Holocaust will now be housed in the USC College of Letters, Arts & Sciences as a part of the newly formed USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education.[41]

In addition to the Shoah Foundation, the USC Libraries digital collection highlights include the California Historical Society, Korean American Archives and the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California. The digital archive holds 193,252 records and 223,487 content files of varying formats.

USC's 22 libraries and other archives currently hold nearly 4 million printed volumes, 6 million items in microform, and 3 million photographs and subscribe to more than 30,000 current serial titles, nearly 44,000 feet (13,000 m) of manuscripts and archives, and subscribe to over 120 electronic databases and more than 14,000 journals in print and electronic formats. Annually, reference transactions number close to 50,000 and approximately 1,100 instructional presentations are made to 16,000 participants.[42] The University of Southern California Library system is among the top 35 largest university library systems in the United States.[43]


University rankings (overall)
U.S. News & World Report[44] 23rd
Washington Monthly[45] 39th
ARWU[46] 46th
QS[47] 107th
Times[48] 55th

In the U.S. News & World Report's annual ranking of best "National Universities", USC made the prestigious top 25, ranked at 23rd in 2011. [49][50] USC is ranked 46th among world universities and 35th among universities in the Americas by the Academic Ranking of World Universities, 48th worldwide in 2011 by Human Resources & Labor Review,[51] and 13th (tied with seven other universities) among national universities by The Center for Measuring University Performance. [52]

USNWR ranks USC's School of Law 18th,[53] the Marshall School of Business is ranked 9th in undergraduate education with the USC Leventhal School of Accounting 4th, the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies 3rd and 20th for its MBA program,[54][55] the USC School of Cinematic Arts is tied with NYU for 1st, Keck School of Medicine of USC 34th in research and unranked in primary care,[56] the Viterbi School of Engineering 11th,[57] and the Rossier School of Education 14th,[58] and the Roski School of Fine arts Graduate program 37th,[59] the School of Policy, Planning, and Development 7th,[60] the USC School of Social Work 8th.

USC was named "College of the Year 2000" by the editors of Time and The Princeton Review for the university's extensive community-service programs.[61]

The Princeton Review ranked USC video game design program as 1st out of 150 schools in North America.[62] The university's video game design programs are interdisciplinary, involving the Interactive Media Division of the USC School of Cinematic Arts and the GamePipe program in the Department of Computer Science at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering.[63]

The Institute of Higher Education at Shanghai Jiao Tong University ranked USC's combined departments of engineering and computer sciences as 11th in the world, physical sciences 52nd, social sciences 35th, life sciences 51st, clinical medicine and pharmacy 47th.[64] USC is also among top 10 dream colleges in the United States. Princeton Review's "College Hopes & Worries" 2010 survey reports USC as the 9th dream college for both students and parents separately.[65]

Student body

Ethnic composition of student body[66]
Undergraduate Graduate &
U.S. Census[67]
Caucasian 47.0% 31.9% 73.9%
Black 5.8% 4.2% 12.1%
Asian 21.0% 20.2% 4.3%
Hispanic 13.6% 8.1% 14.5%
Native American 0.8% 0.4% 0.9%
International 9.1% 24.7% (N/A)

USC has a total enrollment of 36,896 students, of which 17,380 are at the undergraduate and 19,516 at the graduate and professional levels.[28] The male-female ratio at USC is nearly 1:1. 31.2% of incoming students are drawn from the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area, 20.9% from other areas in California, 39.5% from the rest of the United States, and 8.4% from abroad.[68] USC's student body encompasses 7,115 international students, more than any other university in the United States[69] and the university maintains offices in several countries.[b] There are approximately 200,000 living Trojan Alumni.[70]


35,794 students applied for admission to the undergraduate class of 2014, with 8,715 being admitted (24%) and 2,972 enrolling (34% yield). Among admitted students, the interquartile range for SAT composite scores was 2020-2230[71] and the average unweighted GPA was 3.8, while among enrolled freshmen, the SAT range was 1950-2170 and the average GPA was 3.7.[72] 20 percent of admitted and attending students are SCions, or students with familial ties to USC, while 12 percent are the first generation in their family to attend any form of college. There were also 245 National Merit Scholar winners and 7 National Achievement Scholars in the admitted class. USC ranks among the top five schools in the nation in terms of its enrollment of National Merit Scholars.[73]

Faculty and research

The Eileen L. Norris Cinema Theatre, where the THX sound system was first developed and installed by Tomlinson Holman.[74]

USC employs approximately 3,249 full-time faculty, 1,486 part-time faculty, and about 10,744 staff members.[2] 350 postdoctoral fellows are supported along with over 800 medical residents.[75] Among the USC faculty, 12 have been elected to the National Academy of Science,[76] 35 to the National Academy of Engineering,[76] 13 to the Institute of Medicine,[76] 21 to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences,[77] 75 to the American Association for the Advancement of Science,[77] 6 to the American Philosophical Society,[77] and 9 to the National Academy of Public Administration.[77] 29 USC faculty are listed as among the "Highly Cited" in the Institute for Scientific Information database.[78] George Olah won the 1994 Nobel Prize in Chemistry[79] and directs the Loker Hydrocarbon Research Institute. Leonard Adleman won the Turing Award in 2003.[80]

In fiscal year 2007 USC expended $415.2 million on research, and major funding came from federal agencies: the Department of Health and Human Services granted $182.4 million, Department of Defense $45.7 million, and National Science Foundation $41.8 million.[81] Total foundation and association sponsorship totaled $43.1 million, corporate research $30.6 million, and local government funding totaled $28.1 million.[81]

The university has two National Science Foundation–funded Engineering Research Centers: the Integrated Media Systems Center and the Center for Biomimetic Microelectronic Systems. [82] The Department of Homeland Security selected USC as its first Homeland Security Center of Excellence. Since 1991, USC has been the headquarters of the NSF and USGS funded Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC). The University of Southern California is a founding and charter member of CENIC, the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California, the nonprofit organization, which provides extremely high-performance Internet-based networking to California's K-20 research and education community. USC researcher Jonathan Postel was an editor of communications-protocol for the fledgling internet, also known as ARPANET.[83]

Notable USC faculty include or have included the following: Leonard Adleman, Richard Bellman, Aimee Bender, Barry Boehm, Warren Bennis, Todd Boyd, T.C. Boyle, Drew Casper, Erwin Chemerinsky, Thomas Crow, Francis De Erdely, Percival Everett, Murray Gell-Mann, Seymour Ginsburg, Jane Goodall, Solomon Golomb, Susan Estrich, Janet Fitch, Tomlinson Holman, Thomas H. Jordan, Pierre Koenig, Leonard Maltin, Daniel L. McFadden, George Olah, Paul Orfalea, George V. Chilingar, Simon Ramo, Irving Reed, Michael Waterman, Frank Gehry, Arieh Warshel, Lloyd Welch, and Diane Winston.


There are currently 200,000 living Trojan alumni, with nearly 75% of all alumni living in California.[8] Among the notable alumni of the University of Southern California have come prominent musicians, businessmen, engineers, architects, athletes, actors, politicians, and those that have gained both national and international fame. To keep alumni connected, the Trojan network consists of over 100 alumni groups on five continents. A common saying among those associated with the school is that one is a "Trojan for Life".[84][85][86]


The Galen Center, home of USC basketball and volleyball

The USC Trojans participate in the NCAA Division I (FBS) Pacific-12 Conference and has won 114 total team national championships (non-NCAA and NCAA): 91 for men and 23 for women. Of this total, 78 and 14 are NCAA National Championships for men and women, respectively. The NCAA does not include college football championships in its calculation. Though there are multiple organizations that name national championships, USC claims 11 football championships. The men's 361 Individual Championships are the second-best in the nation and 53 ahead of third place Texas. USC's cross-town rival is UCLA, with whom there is fierce athletic and scholastic competition. USC's rivalry with Notre Dame—though generally limited to football—predates the UCLA rivalry by three years. The Notre Dame rivalry stems mainly from the annual football game played between these two universities and is considered one of the greatest rivalries in college athletics.[87]

USC has won 92 NCAA team championships, 3rd behind cross-town rival UCLA (106) and Stanford (101). The Trojans have also won at least one national team title in 26 consecutive years (1959–60 to 1984–85). USC won the National College All-Sports Championship, an annual ranking by USA Today of the country's top athletic programs, 6 times since its inception in 1971. Four Trojans have won the James E. Sullivan Award as the top amateur athlete in America: diver Sammy Lee (1953), shot putter Parry O'Brien (1959), swimmer John Naber (1977) and swimmer Janet Evans (1989).

From the 1904 Summer Olympics through the 2004 games, 375 Trojan athletes have competed in the Games, taking home 112 gold medals, 64 silver and 58 bronze.[15] If it were an independent country, USC would be ranked 12th in the world in terms of medals.[88] Since 1912, USC is the only university in the world to have a gold medal-winning athlete in every summer Olympiad.[15]

Men's sports

The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum during a USC football game

In men's sports, USC has won 92 team national championships (78 NCAA titles) - more than any other school - and male athletes have won a record 296 individual NCAA titles. The Trojans have won 26 championships in track and field, 19 in tennis, 12 in baseball, 9 in swimming and diving, 6 in volleyball, 6 in water polo, 2 in indoor track and field, and 1 in gymnastics.[c] USC's men's basketball has appeared in the NCAA tournament 15 times, and made 2 NCAA Final Four appearances.

The USC football program has consistently ranked among the best in the Division I FBS in recent years. During the term of Pete Carroll as head coach, the Trojans improved their rankings and competed in a variety of bowls and championships. The Trojans football has won 11 national championships.[89] 7 players have won the Heisman Trophy, although the school claims six, after alleged violations involving Reggie Bush. As of 2011, 472 Trojans have been taken in the NFL Draft, more than any other university.[90] Their 2004 BCS National title was stripped 6/6/2011, but they retained the Associated Press title.

Women's sports

Women's teams have earned 23 national championships. The Women of Troy have brought home 51 individual NCAA crowns. Two Women of Troy athletes have won the Honda-Broderick Cup as the top collegiate woman athlete of the year: Cheryl Miller (1983–84) and Angela Williams (2001–02). And Trojan women have won 8 Honda Awards, as the top female athlete in their sport.

The Women of Troy have won 7 championships in tennis, 6 in volleyball, 3 in water polo, 2 in golf, 2 in basketball, 1 in swimming and diving, 1 in track and field, and 1 in soccer.

Traditions and student activities

USC mascot Traveler with Trojan Warrior and The Spirit of Troy

As one of the oldest universities 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:

  • 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).
  • Primal SCream: Every night before a final in the fall and spring semester, the USC Band performs outside of Leavey Library at 10:00 to give students a 20-minute break filled with music, dancing, cheering, and even swimming in the reflection pool. On the night before the last day of finals, everyone from students to band members jumps in the reflection pool and celebrate the end of the semester.
  • Spectators walking from campus to the Coliseum 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.
  • TroyCamp is USC's primary charity that serves children from the community in numerous ways. Songfest is an annual event on campus that showcases student talent and benefits the charity. Most fraternities and sororities "team up" to perform in the show.


During the week prior to the traditional USC-UCLA rivalry football game, the Tommy Trojan statue is covered to prevent UCLA vandalism.

USC has rivalries with multiple schools. Though generally limited to football, USC has a major rivalry with Notre Dame. The annual game is played for the Jeweled Shillelagh. The rivalry has featured more national championship teams, Heisman trophy winners, All-Americans, and future NFL hall-of-famers than any other collegiate match-up. The two schools have kept the annual game on their schedules since 1926 (except 1942–44 because of World War II travel restrictions) and the game is often referred to as the greatest intersectional rivalry in college football.[91][92][93][94][95]

USC's cross-town rival is UCLA, with whom there is fierce athletic and scholastic competition. Both are within L.A. city limits, approximately 10 miles (16 km) apart. Until 1982 the two schools also shared the same football stadium, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The victor of the annual football game takes home the Victory Bell. The Trojans and Bruins also compete in a year-long all-sports competition for the Lexus Gauntlet Trophy. Pranks between UCLA and USC were commonplace several decades ago. Both universities have cracked down on pranks since a 1989 incident when USC students released hundreds of crickets into the main UCLA library during finals week.[96] Days before a clash between rivals UCLA and USC in 2009, the Bruins mascot was vandalized. It was splashed in cardinal and gold paint, USC's official colors sparking memories of pranks played in the years earlier.[97] The week preceding the annual football matchup with UCLA is known as "Troy Week" and features a number of traditions including CONQUEST! "The Ultimate Trojan Experience", Save Tommy Night, the CONQUEST! Bonfire, and all-night vigils by the Trojan Knights to protect the campus from UCLA Bruins.

In addition, USC has rivalries with other Pac-12 schools, namely Stanford as both are the only two private universities in the conference and are situated at opposing regions of California, as well as being the two oldest private research universities in California, 1880 and 1885 respectively.


Statue of unofficial mascot George Tirebiter

Traveler, a white Andalusian horse, is currently the university's official mascot. It first appeared at a football game in 1961, and was known at Traveler I. The current horse is known as Traveler VII.

Tommy Trojan, officially known as the Trojan Shrine, is a bronze statue in the model of a Trojan warrior at the center of campus. It is commonly mistaken as the school's official mascot. The statue was modeled after Trojan football players, and the statue is engraved with the ideal characteristics of a Trojan. It is a popular meeting point for students and a landmark for visitors.

In the 1940s, George Tirebiter, a car-chasing dog, was the most popular unofficial mascot. After it bit the mascot of the UCLA Bruins, it gained fame among students. The dog was known to chase down cars on Trousdale Parkway, which runs through campus. After the original dog died, a few others succeeded it. A statue was built in 2006 to honor the unofficial mascot.

Marching band

The drum major of the Spirit of Troy wears a more elaborate uniform and conducts the band with a sword.

USC's marching band, known as The Spirit of Troy, has been featured in at least 10 major movies, performed in the 1932 and 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.[98] They have also performed on television shows and with other musicians.

The band performed on the title track of the 1979 Fleetwood Mac album Tusk, which went on to be a multi-platinum record. In 1990, the band performed live on America's Funniest Home Videos.[99] Additionally, the band later played on another multi-platinum Fleetwood Mac album, The Dance (1997).[100] The Spirit of Troy is the only collegiate band to have two platinum records.[101][102] In recent years, the band has appeared at the 2009 Grammy Awards, accompanying Radiohead; on the 2009 Academy Awards with Beyoncé Knowles and Hugh Jackman; and during the finale of American Idol 2008, backing Renaldo Lapuz in instrumentation of his original song "We're Brothers Forever."[103][104][105] In 2009, the band played on the show Dancing With the Stars.[106]

The USC band was only one of two American groups invited to march in the Hong Kong Chinese New Year parade in 2003 and 2004. The Trojan Marching Band performed at the 2005 World Expo in Nagoya, Japan. In May 2006, the Trojan Marching Band traveled to Italy, performing once in Florence, and twice in Rome (including in front of the Coliseum). The band has also, for many years, performed the 1812 Overture with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra (or occasionally with other orchestras) each year at the Hollywood Bowl "Tchaikovsky Spectacular".[107]

Spirit groups

The Song Girls celebrating a USC Trojans football victory

Founded in 1967, the USC Song Girls appear at all football, basketball, and volleyball games as well as rallies, university and alumni functions.[108] Unlike other college cheer teams, Song Girls are primarily a dance squad and do not perform gymnastics, stunts or lead cheers.[109] Founded in 1919, the USC Yell Leaders worked closely with The Spirit of Troy (USC Band) and the Song Girls to lead cheers and perform stunts to rally Trojan fans at football, basketball, and volleyball games. The sweater-clad team consisted of all men for most of its existence, though the squad later opened itself up to applicants from both sexes and did feature one female Yell Leader in 1998.[110] They were disbanded by the University after the 2005–06 season and replaced by the co-ed Spirit Leaders.[111] The Spirit Leaders lead chants and motivate the crowds during Trojan football, basketball, volleyball, water polo, soccer, and baseball games and, like the Song Girls, travel with the team to post-season events such as bowl games and the NCAA Basketball Tournament.[112]

Student media

The Daily Trojan has been the student newspaper of USC since 1912 and is a primary source of news and information for the campus. It secured the first interview of President Richard Nixon after his resignation. The publication does not receive financial aid from the university and instead runs entirely on advertisement revenue. Published from Monday to Friday during the fall and spring semesters, the newspaper turns into the Summer Trojan during the summer term and publishes once a week. It is the paper of record on campus.

Trojan Vision (often abbreviated as TV8) is the Student television station at USC. TV8 was established in 1997 by the Annenberg School for Communication, but is now a part of the School of Cinematic Arts. Trojan Vision broadcasts 24/7 from the Robert Zemeckis Center for Digital Arts to the University Park Campus on Channel 8.1 and online through their website. Programming is also made available to the greater Los Angeles community on local channel LA36. In addition to a selection of regularly airing shows of many genres, Trojan Vision also broadcasts the shows Platforum, a round-table debate show; Annenberg TV News, a news program; and CU@USC, an interview program, live every weeknight from 5:30pm to 7:00pm.[113]

El Rodeo is USC's student-run yearbook. One of the oldest student traditions at the university, the first edition was released in 1889 and was originally called The Sybil. The name was changed to El Rodeo in 1899 to reflect the cowboy-themed events students threw to advertise the yearbook as a "roundup" of the year's events. It was long packaged with the Student Activity Card, which gave students access to all home sports games. Since the card was dissolved in 2007, the yearbook has been sold as a stand-alone item.[114]

Greek life

The Greek Community, making up approximately a fifth of the student body, has had a long and influential history on the campus. Centered on a portion of West 28th Street known as "The Row", located between Figueroa Street and Hoover Street just north of campus, USC's Greek system began soon after the school's founding when Kappa Alpha Theta founded a chapter in 1887.

With 23 fraternities and 11 sororities in the Interfraternity Conference (IFC) and Panhellenic Conference (PHC), respectively, the USC Greek community has over 2,650 members and is one of the largest on the West Coast. It regularly participates in Homecoming and Songfest, and the community's philanthropic efforts and success in philanthropic leadership annually raise over $150,000.

Outside of the Panhellenic and Interfraternity conferences, the Greek community at USC is very diverse, boasting the Multicultural, Asian, Inter-Fraternity (composed of professional fraternities), and the National Pan-Hellenic (historically black) Councils. Organizations governed by these councils include chapters of some of the oldest Latino and Black Greek organizations in the country and the oldest Asian fraternity in Southern California; while also including established professional business, engineering, and pre-law fraternities and other multiculturally based groups.

Popular media

Fountain outside of Doheny Library with the Von KleinSmid Center; both buildings were used in the film The Graduate as stand-ins for UC Berkeley.

Because of USC's proximity to Hollywood, close ties between the School of Cinematic Arts and entertainment industry, and the idyllic architecture on campus, the university has been used in numerous movies, TV shows, commercials, and music videos. USC serves as a popular spot for filmmakers, standing in for numerous other universities, "playing" institutions such as Harvard and Oxford in movies and on television.[115]

Movies filmed at USC include Forrest Gump, Legally Blonde, Road Trip, The Girl Next Door, Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, Love & Basketball, Blue Chips, Ghostbusters, Live Free or Die Hard, House Party 2, The Number 23, The Social Network and The Graduate.[115] TV shows that have used the USC campus include Cold Case, Entourage, 24, The O.C., Beverly Hills, 90210, Moesha, Saved by the Bell: The College Years, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, House, Undeclared, The West Wing, House, M.D., Alias, The Office, Monk, The United States of Tara, Gilmore Girls, and The Roommate.[116] The USC campus also appears on the video game Midnight Club: Los Angeles on its "South Central Map Expansion".[117]

Recently the campus has served as a backdrop for popular television games shows Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune. Other television shows that have been filmed on campus include the 2004 Democratic Primary Debate, Hardball with Chris Matthews, The Scholar, The Best Damn Sports Show Period, CSI:New York, and College GameDay.



b. ^ These other names include SC, Southern California, and Southern Cal. Despite its prevalent use in sports-related articles, the official position of USC discourages use of "Southern Cal" (to reinforce the nonexistence of a foundational association in any context to Cal), as clearly stated in all media guides: "Note to the media: In editorial references to athletic teams of the University of Southern California, the following are preferred: USC, Southern California, So. California, Troy and Trojans for men's or women's teams, and Women of Troy for women's teams. PLEASE do not use Southern Cal (it's like calling San Francisco 'Frisco' or North Carolina 'North Car.'). The usage of 'Southern Cal' on licensed apparel and merchandise is limited in scope and necessary to protect federal trademark rights."[118]

c. ^ Specifically Seoul, South Korea; Hong Kong, China; Jakarta, Indonesia; Taipei, Taiwan; Mexico City; and Tokyo, Japan. USC International Offices

d. ^ The NCAA does not conduct a championship for Football Bowl Subdivision football. Instead, teams are awarded championships by various private organizations, currently the recognized championships are awarded by the Bowl Championship Series and titles by the Associated Press.

e. ^ The precise colors can be found on the USC Graphic Identity Program website: the correct Pantone color for USC Cardinal is PMS 201C and USC Gold is PMS 123C.


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