Message from Board of Trustees Chairman Rick J. Caruso

August 28, 2018

Dear Members of the USC Family:

Earlier this month, I announced that the Board of Trustees had commenced the search for the 12th president of USC and that we had designated two nationally recognized search firms – Isaacson, Miller and Heidrick & Struggles – to assist in this process. I want to update you on the progress we are making and the opportunities for you to participate.

The Board recognizes that selecting our next president is not only historic and consequential, but it is also our most inviolable and solemn fiduciary obligation. This is a monumental moment for the future of our University and we commit to this undertaking with the utmost faith, trust, and confidence.

A Presidential Search Advisory Committee, comprised of trustees and USC faculty, will lead the global search process. Responsibilities include recruiting, screening, and conducting interviews with prospective candidates, and then making a recommendation to the full Board.  The Committee will take as much time as needed to identify precisely the right individual.

The Committee consists of twenty-three members: thirteen trustees comprised of the chairs of the eleven standing subcommittees of the Board and two trustees representing the USC Health System Board; eight faculty representatives based on recommendations from the USC Academic Senate and other campus leaders; an academic dean; and our interim President, Dr. Wanda Austin, who will serve as an ex-officio member. The complete list is located here.

This search will be framed by our community’s collective academic and cultural aspirations for the University. We seek your input on USC’s future as well as any specific candidate nominations that you wish to put forward for consideration. There are two main ways to participate:

First, we have created a USC Presidential Search website through which you can provide input by utilizing a confidential online survey. This survey will capture your expectations and aspirations for what the next president of USC should accomplish, what you perceive as the principal challenges and opportunities facing our University, and any specific attributes and experiences that you believe our next leader should possess. There is also a nomination page where you can directly submit names of recommended candidates. All input received via the search website will be reviewed by both the Committee and the search firms.

Second, we will be holding in-person forums at the University Park Campus and at the Health Sciences Campus. These are “listening sessions” where you can directly share your views and recommendations. They will be hosted by members of the Committee with representatives of the two search firms in attendance. As with the website, the information and feedback gathered at these forums will provide essential data to guide the candidate identification and deliberation process. Details regarding these forums are available on the presidential search website.

In the meantime, Dr. Austin is highly capable of leading our University. If any of our students, faculty, staff, or alumni have not yet had the chance to meet Dr. Austin, I hope that you have the opportunity to do so over the coming months. She is a decisive leader, an excellent listener, and deeply committed to ensuring that USC remains strong and continues to thrive.

If you have any questions about this process, I encourage you to contact the Committee at


Rick J. Caruso
USC Board of Trustees