4/15: Message to Trojan Community from President Folt

Dear Trojan Community,

Greetings from Southern California and heartfelt wishes that you and your loved ones are well and safe. It has been just over four weeks since USC began in earnest this global odyssey into the unknown. What inspires me the most is the genuine concern for others in need that I am seeing everywhere.

Faculty and staff, you miraculously turned on a dime to change the way you teach and work, and you continue to challenge yourselves to do even more. Students, I’ve always known you were resilient, but you’ve adapted even more quickly than I could have dreamed in the face of grave disappointments and hardships. Parents, we are so grateful for your sacrifices and support. Health care workers, first responders, and essential service personnel, our entire nation thanks you for leaping in immediately to take care of others, even at risk to yourselves. Thank you all for your positive spirits and steadfast support of the university we love.

Even as the challenges continue, the spirit, creativity, and generosity of Trojans everywhere are a force for good. I wanted to share some stories that lift our spirits and remind us that our empathy, creative thinking, humor, and progress in science and medicine will get us through this crisis stronger and more united than ever.

Stories of Trojans like:

Victor Rosales, Audrey Clark, and their colleagues in Food Services, who are making sure that the 1600 students still living on our campus, as well as our essential staff, have delicious food to help them through a tough day.

Victor Rosales and Audrey Clark from Food Services
Courtesy of USC Hospitality

Our USC community volunteers who are providing food and other necessities, like thermometers to senior citizens, and meals for 500 local families and kids in our Head Start Program. Feeding those we care for is a privilege. USC’s Good Neighbors Campaign will be providing over $1.2 million in grants to support our local community-based non-profits during this crisis. And our Neighborhood Academic Initiative continues to deliver college preparedness programs via Zoom to more than 1000 12th graders.

USC community volunteers unloading a truck to provide food and other necessities
Photo by Gus Ruelas

Our students and staff at our schools, who are hard at work making face coverings and protective gear using the 3D printer and other innovative technologies. These life-protecting supplies, are being deployed to frontline caregivers.

USC community making face masks and protective gear
Photo by Gus Ruelas

Our courageous healthcare teams, who are saving lives and our surgical residents who are learning ICU nursing skills so they can help their colleagues on the frontlines.

USC health care team members
Photo by Ricardo Carrasco III

Our Care for the Caregiver program, which is offering housing in our USC Hotel for those healthcare workers on the front lines fighting Covid-19.

USC care package on a bed at the USC Hotel where accommodations are provided for front line workers
Courtesy of USC Hotel

Our team at USC Athletics, who hosted a blood drive at the Galen Center to help maintain a stable blood supply throughout the pandemic in partnership with the Red Cross.

Blood drive at the Galen Center
Photo by Gus Ruelas

Our security teams, who are working around the clock to care for our students and the essential workers on our campuses every day.

USC DPS practicing self-care during shifts
Photo by Gus Ruelas

Our researchers, who are on the forefront of our nation’s efforts to increase testing capacity, find a vaccine, develop serological tests for immunity at large scale, and so much more.

USC researchers testing for COVID-19 antibodies.
Photo by Kit Karzen

Our seniors, Claire Monro and Claire Fisher, who recognized the devastating financial hit the local businesses around our campuses are taking. To help them make ends meet, they designed and are selling “Fight Online” t-shirts to raise money. These businesses’ owners are our friends and many have become like family.

Claire Monro and Claire Fisher
Courtesy of Claire Monro and Claire Fisher

Our alumni, who as always are stepping up to support our emergency funds, to find and deliver massive amounts of personal protective equipment (PPE), to support our research and student needs, and to help bolster our financial position at such a precarious time.

And finally, Trojans who lift our spirits, like Will Ferrell who reached out and made us laugh just when we needed it, to the leading scholars from Dornsife who are holding stimulating online forums, to the Thornton musicians who are playing music and posting it for all to enjoy.

Will Ferrell greets the USC community
Courtesy of Will Ferrell

As I write today, I also am thinking of the many signs of hope. Even the empty spaces we see are signs that people are taking responsibility for their own health, as well as the health of others – and we know that social distancing works. Scientific and medical communities around the world are uniting to fight COVID-19 in unprecedented ways, and I am a believer in the power of science and discovery to beat this. While we do not know when you will return to campus, the good news is that we are deep into planning for your safe return. When the time comes to welcome you back, we will be ready.

One last thought – as your work days stretch into the night, as you juggle children, parents, illness, financial stress, and pauses on your dreams, I urge you to tip the scales towards taking care of yourselves – breathe, meditate, exercise with a face mask, work some Tik Tok dance moves, connect with loved ones, and disconnect from the screen.

Because of you, the incredible education at USC and the Trojan spirit that defines us will be here long after this crisis subsides.

Thank you and Fight On!

Carol L. Folt