genetic medicine

University of Southern California

The University of Southern California (commonly referred to as USC, SC, Southern California, and incorrectly as Southern Cal), is a private, nonsectarian, coeducational research university located in the University Park neighborhood in Los Angeles, California, USA. USC was founded in 1880, making it California's oldest private research university.

The university enrolled 16,384 undergraduate and 17,024 graduate students and awarded 4,676 bachelor's and 5,380 advanced degrees in 2007. USC's four year, full-time undergraduate program is classified as "more selective, higher transfer-in" by the Carnegie Foundation and was ranked 27th among national universities by U.S. News & World Report, which classified it as one of the "most selective universities" for admitting 21% of the 35,809 who applied for freshman admission in 2008. According to the 2007 freshman profile, 18% of admissions were associated with legacy preferences. USC was also named "College of the Year 2000" by the editors of Time and The Princeton Review for the university's extensive community-service programs. USC students hail from all 50 United States as well as over 115 countries.

USC employed 3,127 full-time faculty, 1,363 part-time faculty, and about 8,200 staff members in 2007. The university has a "very high" level of research activity and received $432 million in sponsored research in 2007. USC is home to two National Science Foundation–funded Engineering Research Centers: the Integrated Media Systems Center and the Center for Biomimetic Microelectronic Systems.

USC sponsors 19 intercollegiate sports and competes in the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division I-A Pacific-10 Conference. Trojans have won 88 NCAA championships, third in the nation (behind UCLA and Stanford), and 347 Individual NCAA Championships, second in the nation. 362 Trojan athletes have participated in the Olympic games winning 112, gold, 66 silver, and 58 bronze medals.


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. USC was founded by a Methodist horticulturist, an Irish Catholic pharmacist and a German Jewish banker. The university is no longer affiliated with the Methodist Church, having severed formal ties in 1952.

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.

USC's nickname is the Trojans, epitomized by the statue of 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 was statistically impossible for USC to 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.

USC is the largest private employer in Los Angeles and the third largest in the state of California and 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.

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–present)


The University Park campus is in the West Adams district of South Los Angeles, 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.

Besides its main campus ("University Park Campus"), which lies about southwest of downtown Los Angeles, the university also operates the Health Sciences Campus about 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 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.. There is also a Health Sciences Alhambra campus which 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 which were 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 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.

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 five separate nine-figure gifts — $120 million from Ambassador Walter Annenberg to create the Annenberg Center for Communication and a later Annenberg 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; and most recently, $175 million from George Lucas to the USC School of Cinema-Television, now renamed USC School of Cinematic Arts.

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

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

  • The USC Ronald Tutor Campus Center and Trojan Plaza (Groundbreaking May 2008).
  • The School of Cinematic Arts New Compound(Groundbreaking May 2007).
  • The New USC Football Complex, Plaza, and Gardens.
  • The University Gateway Student Housing and Retail Center(Groundbreaking June 2008).
  • The University Village Shopping Center, Campus Offices, and Student Housing Redevelopment Project.(Groundbreaking January 2010).
  • The USC 2030 Master Plan Home

Health Sciences Campus

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 campus is home to the region's first and oldest medical and pharmacy schools, as well as acclaimed programs in occupational therapy and physical 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 and Harlyne J. Norris Cancer Research Tower.

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.


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 president is Steven B. Sample and the provost is C. L. Max Nikias.

The College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences, the Graduate School, and the 18 professional schools are each led by an academic dean. USC occasionally awards emeritus titles to former administrators. There are currently six administrators emeriti.


USC is a large, primarily residential, majority undergraduate research university. The four year, full-time undergraduate instructional program is classified as "balanced arts & sciences/professions" with a high graduate coexistence and admissions are characterized as "more selective, higher transfer in" and offers 95 undergraduate majors and 147 academic and professional minors. The graduate program is classified as "comprehensive" and offers 134 master's, doctoral, and professional degrees through 17 professional schools. USC is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. The university was elected to the Association of American Universities in 1969. The University of Southern California houses professional schools offering a number of varying disciplines among which include communication, law, dentistry, medicine, business, engineering, journalism, public policy, music, architecture, and cinematic arts. USC's academic departments fall either under the general liberal arts and sciences of the College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences for undergraduates, the Graduate School for graduates, or the university's 17 professional schools.

The The College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences grants degrees in more than 130 majors and offers doctoral and masters programs in more than 20 fields. 4,676 undergraduate degrees and 5,380 advanced degrees were awarded in 2007. All Ph.D. degrees awarded at USC and most masters degrees are under the jurisdiction of the Graduate School. Professional degrees are awarded by each of the respective professional schools: 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.

The School of Cinematic Arts, the oldest and largest film school in the country, confers degrees in six different programs. 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. 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 had donated $175 million to expand the film school, 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.

A Department of Architecture was established at USC 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, A. Quincy Jones, William Pereira and Pierre Koenig. The school of architecture can also claim notable alumni Frank Gehry, 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.

Andrew and Erna Viterbi School of Engineering is headed by Dean Yannis Yortsos. Its research centers have played a major role in development of multiple technologies, including early development of the Internet when USC researcher Jonathan Postel was an editor of communications-protocol for the fledgling internet, also known as ARPANET. The school's faculty includes Seymour Ginsburg, Irving Reed, Leonard Adleman, Solomon W. Golomb, Barry Boehm, Clifford Newman, Richard Bellman, Lloyd Welch and Alexander Sawchuk. 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 founder Andrew Viterbi and his wife Erna, who had recently donated $52 million to the school. The Viterbi School received other major gifts including gifts from Silicon Valley venture capitalist Mark Stevens who created the USC Stevens Institute for Innovation in 2004; real estate developer Daniel J. Epstein who named the Epstein Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering with an $11 million gift in 2002; Energy Corporation of America CEO John Mork who named the Mork Family Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science with a $15 million gift in 2005; Ken Klein, CEO and president of Wind River Systems, who established the Klein Institute for Undergraduate Engineering Life with an $11 million gift, also in 2005; Ming Hsieh, founder of Cogent Inc., who named the Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering in 2006 with a $35 million gift; and Los Angeles real estate developer Sonny Astani, who named the Sonny Astani Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering with a $17 million gift in 2007.

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, 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.

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 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.

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 linear feet 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. The University of Southern California Library system is among the top 35 largest university library systems in the United States.


USC is ranked 27th among national universities by U.S.News & World Report 50th among world universities and 39th among universities in the Americas by Shanghai Jiao Tong University, 119th worldwide by The Times Higher Education Supplement, 24th among national universities by Washington Monthly, and 23rd among national universities by The Center for Measuring University Performance.

USNWR ranks USC's School of Law 18th, Marshall School of Business 21st, Keck School of Medicine of USC 36th in research and unranked in primary care, the Viterbi School of Engineering 8th, and the Rossier School of Education 38th, and the Roski School of Fine arts Graduate program 37th, the School of Policy, Planning, and Development 7th.

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. USC is also among top 10 dream colleges in the United States. Princeton Review's "College Hopes & Worries" 2008 survey reports USC as the 9th dream college for students.

Student body

Ethnic composition of student body
Undergraduate Graduate & Professional U.S. Census
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 student 9.1% 24.7% (N/A)

USC has a total enrollment of 33,408 students, of which 16,384 are at the undergraduate and 17,024 at the graduate and professional levels. 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 California, 39.5% from the rest of the United States, and 8.4% from abroad. USC's student body encompasses 7,115 international students, more than any other university in the United States and the university maintains offices in several countries. There are approximately 194,000 living Trojan Alumni.


33,760 students applied for admission to the undergraduate class of 2011, with 8,553 being admitted (25%) and 2,963 enrolling (35% yield). Among admitted students, the interquartile range for SAT composite scores was 1950 - 2200 and the average GPA was 3.8. 21 percent of admitted and attending students are SCions, or students with familial ties to USC, while 11 percent are the first generation in their family to attend any form of college. There were also 220 National Merit Scholar winners and 5 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.

Faculty and research

USC employs approximately 3,127 full-time faculty, 1,363 part-time faculty, and about 8,200 staff members. 350 postdoctoral fellows are supported along with over 800 medical residents. Among the USC faculty, 12 have been elected to the National Academy of Science, 28 to the National Academy of Engineering, 13 to the Institute of Medicine, 21 to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 60 to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, 6 to the American Philosophical Society, and 9 to the National Academy of Public Administration. 25 USC faculty are listed as among the "Highly Cited" in the Institute for Scientific Information database. George Olah won the 1994 Nobel Prize in Chemistry and directs the Loker Hydrocarbon Research Institute. Leonard Adleman won the Turing Award in 2003.

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. Total foundation and association sponsorship totaled $43.1 million, corporate research $30.6 million, and local government funding totaled $28.1 million.

The university has two National Science Foundation–funded Engineering Research Centers: the Integrated Media Systems Center and the Center for Biomimetic Microelectronic Systems. 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. 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.


There are currently 200,000 living Trojan alumni, with nearly 75% of all alumni living in California. 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".

Among the notable alumni of the University of Southern California have come prominent musicians, businessmen, athletes, actors, politicians, and those that have gained both national and international fame. Just a few of the many Trojan alumni include: Marcus Allen, Judd Apatow, Neil Armstrong, Reggie Bush, Jerry Buss, Warren Christopher, Chris DeWolfe, Salvatore Ferragamo, Will Ferrell, Nmon Ford, Mike Garrett, Frank Gehry, Tom Hicks, Marilyn Horne, James Horner, Terrence Lanni, Matt Leinart, George Lucas, Pat Nixon, Paul Orfalea, Carson Palmer, Sol Price, Charles Prince, John Ritter, Chris Lowell, Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, Andrew Viterbi, John Wayne and Forest Whitaker.

Famous USC faculty include: Leonard Adleman, Aimee Bender, Warren Bennis, Todd Boyd, T.C. Boyle, Drew Casper, Thomas Crow, Jane Goodall, Susan Estrich, Janet Fitch, Solomon Golomb, Tomlinson Holman, Leonard Maltin, George Olah, Paul Orfalea and Simon Ramo.


USC athletics participates in the NCAA Division I-A Pacific Ten Conference and has won 108 total team national championships, 88 of which are NCAA National Championships. 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. Excluding football, USC men's teams have combined for 86 NCAA championships. The women have won 28, all since 1976. In addition, USC has , second-best in the nation. The men's 296 Individual Championships are best in the nation and 50 ahead of second place Michigan. USC's cross-town rival is UCLA, with whom there is fierce athletic and scholastic competition. USC's rivalry with Notre Dame - 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.

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. This All-time Olympic Games medal count would place USC 11th internationall as of 2004. Since 1912, USC is the only university in the world to have a gold medal-winning athlete in every summer Olympiad.

Trojan athletic achievement

  • Men's teams have won 73 national championships (62 NCAA titles), more than any other University.
  • Women's teams have earned 22 national championships.
  • USC Trojans football team has won 11 national championships and 7 players have won the Heisman Trophy.
  • The Trojans 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.
  • Trojan men athletes have won more individual NCAA titles (296) than those from any other school in the nation (the Women of Troy have brought home another 51 individual NCAA crowns).
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • USC won the Lexus Gauntlet Trophy, a year-long all-sports competition between Troy and crosstown rival UCLA, in its inaugural 2001-02 season and again in 2003-04, 2005-06, and 2007-2008.

Men's National Championships

86 Total Men's Titles

Women's National Championships

22 Total Women's Titles

Traditions and student activities

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).
  • The Trojan Shrine, better known as "Tommy Trojan," is a bronze statue located at the center of campus, and an integral figure in school pride, embodying the values of a Trojan: Faithful, Scholarly, Skillful, Courageous, and Ambitious.
  • Traveler, a majestic white horse, has been the USC mascot since 1961. Mounted by a rider dressed as a Trojan warrior, Traveler gallops around the field at every home football game whenever USC scores.
  • Prior to Traveler making his first football game appearance in 1940, USC's mascot was a campus mutt called George Tirebiter that went around campus chasing cars. A statue was erected in his honor in 2006.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • TroyCamp is USC's primary charity that serves children from the community in numerous ways.
  • Songfest is an annual event on campus to showcase student talent. Most fraternities and sororities "team up" to perform in the show that benefits Troy Camp. For the past four years, the Songfest trophy has gone home with Alpha Chi Omega and Alpha Gamma Omega (2005–2008). This current streak is the longest running Songfest streak in Songfest history.
  • 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.


  • Traveler – Current official mascot; Andalusian horse.
  • George Tirebiter – Past unofficial mascot; car-chasing dog.
  • Tommy Trojan – Unofficial; real name is "Trojan Shrine"; the bronze statue is commonly mistaken as the school's official mascot.

Marching band

USC's marching band, known as The Spirit of Troy, has been featured in at least 10 major movies and performed in the 1932 and 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. 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. Additionally, the band later played on another multi-platinum Fleetwood Mac album, The Dance (1997). The Spirit of Troy and UCLA Bruin Marching Band are the only two college marching bands to have played on platinum records. In recent years, the band appeared with OutKast at the 2004 Grammy Awards; and during the finale of American Idol 2008, backing Renaldo Lapuz in instrumentation of his original song "We're Brothers Forever."

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 of 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".

Daily Trojan

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.

El Rodeo

USC's yearbook is the student-run El Rodeo. 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. Long packaged with the Student Activity Card (which allowed students access to all home sports games), with the dissolution of the Spirit Activity Card in 2007 the yearbook is now sold separately as a stand-alone item.

Alma mater

"All Hail" was written by Al Wessen for the finale of a student show, "Campus Frolics of 1923".

"All Hail to Alma Mater
To thy glory we sing;
All Hail to Southern California
Loud let thy praises ring;
Where Western sky meets Western sea
Our college stands in majesty;
Sing our love to Alma Mater,
Hail, all hail to thee!"

Spirit groups

Founded in 1969, the USC Song Girls appear at all football, basketball, and volleyball games as well as rallies, university and alumni functions. Unlike other college cheer teams, Song Girls are primarily dance squad and do not perform gymnastics, stunts or lead cheers. Founded in 1919, the USC Yell Leaders worked closely with the Spirit of Troy 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. They were disbanded by the University before the 2006 season and replaced by the co-ed Spirit Leaders. The Spirit Leaders, established before the 2006-2007 season, 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.

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 on 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 in the 1880s.

With 20 fraternities and 10 sororities in the Interfraternity Council (IFC) and Panhellenic Council (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 Interfraternal councils, the Greek community at USC is very diverse, boasting the Multicultural, Asian and National Panhellenic (historically black) Greek Councils. Organizations governed by these councils include chapters of some of the oldest Latino and Black Greek organizations in the country, as well as Asian and multiculturally based organizations that range from 5 to over 50 years old.

Student government and politics

Undergraduate Student Government

The USC undergraduate student body annually elects members to Undergraduate Student Government (formerly known as Student Senate), which works closely with the USC Student Affairs department.

The Undergraduate Student Government consists of executive, legislative, and judicial branches, along with a programming branch (commonly referred to as "Program Board"). The executive branch consists of students appointed by the elected leadership and is charged with coordinating publications, events, and efforts to solve problems voiced by the student body. The legislative branch, the only branch fully elected by the students, represents the voice of the student body to university officials and legislates change to some limited aspects of university policy. The judicial branch ensures that all operations within Undergraduate Student Government are within the bounds of the organization's governing documentation.

Program Board aims to provide USC students with education and information through a multitude of social, political, and entertaining events. Assemblies and committees, in conjunction with elected and appointed Senate representatives, attempt to program these events in line with the desires of the paying student body. All Undergraduate Student Government activities are funded by the student activity fee, which the President and Treasurer have control over setting and which the Senate approves.

University Residential Student Community

In addition to USG, residents within university housing are governed by the University Residential Student Community, also known as URSC. URSC is composed of five boards: the executive board, the building government chairs, the programming board, the advocacy board, and the funding board. Each building on campus elects a building government, and within that government, four elected members are sent to serve on the URSC General Board. The General Board meets weekly on Wednesday nights, and then splits into individual boards later that evening. In recent years, the Advocacy Board has helped to overhaul the meals plans on campus, as well as initiate new Special Interest Housing. The funding board allocates over $50,000 throughout campus mainly to resident advisors and building governments. The programming board is responsible for planning well known events such as Save Tommy Night, the Dive-In Movie, the Welcome Back Dance, and Battle of the Cans. The Building Governments Chairs are a new addition to URSC and their role will be more clearly defined over the upcoming year.

Student politics

For much of the late 20th century, USC has had a reputation for being a politically conservative campus. 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. 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. In the 1960s, the corrpution between conservative factions in student politics was noted in the screenplay for All the President's Men; the term ratfucking originates from that period.

The conservative majority has recently begun to give way 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.

USC and Hollywood

Because of USC's proximity to Hollywood and close ties between the School of Cinematic Arts and entertainment industry, 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.

Movies filmed at USC include Forrest Gump, Legally Blonde, Road Trip, The Girl Next Door, Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle,Blue Chips, Ghostbusters, Live Free or Die Hard, House Party 2, The Number 23 and The Graduate. TV shows that have used the USC campus include Cold Case, Entourage, 24, The O.C., Beverly Hills 90210, Saved by the Bell: The College Years, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, House, Undeclared, The West Wing, Alias, Monk and Gilmore Girls.

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, Best Damn Sports Show Period, and ESPN College Gameday. The first theater ever to utilize THX sound technology is located at the University of Southern California's Eileen Norris Cinema Theatre as a part of USC's film school.

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a. The acronym "USC" is a registered trademark of the University.

b. Despite its prevalent use in sports-related articles, the official position of USC discourages use of "Southern Cal" in any context, 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."

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

d. The NCAA does not conduct a championship for Division I-A football. Instead, teams are awarded championships by various private organizations, currently the recognized championships are awarded by the Associated Press poll and the Bowl Championship Series --however not always in unison.

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.

f. Carl Bernstein speaking to Donald Segretti: "At USC, you had a word the this--screwing up the opposition you all did it at college and called it ratfucking.


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