Walking the Walk

by Willow Bay
Dean and Walter H. Annenberg Chair in Communication

This Fall, we were excited to welcome our new president, Dr. Carol L. Folt, along with new leadership, including Provost Charles Zukoski and USC Annenberg alumnus Glenn Osaki, who is serving as the university’s first chief communications officer. Dr. Folt is beginning to share her priorities, and it is abundantly clear that students are at the center of every decision she makes.

And she walks the walk. Literally. During home football games, Dr. Folt can be found talking with students as she prowls the student section in her cardinal-and-gold Nike sneakers, a gift from the USC Song Girls. At her inauguration, she invited students to sit directly in front of the stage and even left her seat during the ceremony to pose for photos with them. Later that day, she made her way to Hahn Plaza to join student protesters for the Climate Strike.

Dr. Folt said in her inaugural address that what she has found so striking about our students is their selflessness. “Of all the students who have talked to me about what matters to them, they want to talk about helping other people, not themselves,” she said. “It’s always about other people.”

I, too, am enormously excited by what I see in this generation. Our students know how to use their collective voices to speak up and demand change, and they continually seek out opportunities to contribute in meaningful ways. As you explore this issue’s feature stories on complex topics like food justice, mental health and digital security, you’ll find that our students are playing an important role alongside our faculty and alumni in not only developing a critical understanding of these nuanced challenges, but in devising solutions to them.

At USC Annenberg, I am proud to say that we have always been focused on encouraging our students to redefine what is possible — and deeply appreciate the president underscoring that commitment. I am also grateful to our faculty, staff, alumni, families, and industry partners whose support allows us to continue to foster this environment, where our students are empowered — and we are inspired — to take action. As Dr. Folt has urged us, “Working as Trojans together, there are no limits on the power of change that we have.”