Faculty, Staff and Students Chart USC’s Future Through ‘Culture Journey’

Thousands are voicing their values and vision for how the university should reshape itself, through a process underway across USC’s campuses and centers.

March 11, 2020 USC Trojan Family Magazine staff

USC has embarked on a multi-year culture change journey focusing on defining shared values to support its mission to serve its students, patients, and communities. This extensive initiative brought current students, staff and faculty together to explore USC’s values, align supportive behaviors, and shape opportunities to improve the university’s systems, processes and culture.

As this journey continues, the university will also engage alumni and external communities and stakeholders to be an integral voice in contributing to culture improvements. These efforts will bring to light what is working well and what needs to change to support USC in achieving its utmost potential.

Our Voices, Our Values

Last fall, nearly 20,000 students, faculty and staff participated in the USC Values Poll [PDF] and provided input on values that drive both current and desired cultures. The poll was developed in partnership with the recently formed President’s Culture Commission, the Working Group on University Culture and Barrett Values Centre, a consultancy focused on assessing company culture.

Participants were asked to identify current values and desired values. The results showed a lot of common ground across staff, faculty and students in how they see the current culture at USC and what they desire as values. These include accountability, integrity and ethics. The results also revealed some significant challenges to overcome, including bureaucracy and hierarchy.

In mid-December, President Carol L. Folt shared the poll results with the Trojan community and set the stage to continue the culture journey through shared “culture conversations” across USC. Eight town hall meetings and 44 discussion sessions were held university-wide either online or at the University Park and Health Sciences campuses from January through March of this year. USC faculty and staff members volunteered to facilitate the gatherings.

These sessions provided a deeper understanding of the poll results at the USC-wide level and ideas about how to align values with actions. Each of USC’s 22 schools and 13 business units also coordinated their own town halls and discussion sessions — 38 and 79, respectively — to share school- and unit-specific poll results.

USC Culture Change Moves Forward

These are just the first steps in USC’s culture change journey. Next up? Developing strategic plans focusing on systems, processes and alignment with other areas of culture improvements around leadership development, well-being, equity and inclusion initiatives, diversity and more that will continue to move USC forward. Alumni and other members of the USC community will also be asked to engage in the discussions.

Expect to see programs that will help the university community better define who they want to be and how to create the path forward to a stronger USC. For the latest news about the Culture Journey, please visit