Remarks for Malcom Currie, Chairman, USC Board of Trustees
Dinner Announcing $1.5 billion "Building on Excellence" campaign, September 1995


On behalf of the USC Board of Trustees, I want to thank you for joining us on this exciting evening as we launch this ambitious -- and vitally important -- venture.

One hundred and sixteen years ago, USC's founders -- Ozro Childs, John Downey, and Isaias Hellman -- made a decision that transformed Southern California. These three visionaries and their supporters combined a passionate belief in the transforming power of higher education with an understanding of their region's potential, and decided to establish Southern California's first major university.

USC's founders couldn't have foreseen that their efforts would result in the creation of one of the nation's finest private research institutions. They just knew that their community needed a central resource for education, public service and professional training, and that ithout it Los Angeles could never become a first-class city. Hellman, Downey and Childs began with a few buildings on donated land, in a mustard field on the outskirts of a rough frontier town without paved streets or electric lights. What would they say if they could see us now? In the 116 years since our founding, USC has become one of the world's great educational institutions, in one of the world's most important cities.

USC has succeeded because we have the ability to consistently reinvent ourselves, adapting to the needs of the present and preparing for the future with visionary leadership. Through this process, and our commitment to academic excellence and rigorous research, our university has survived economic and social upheaval and massive technological changes and ended up stronger, more relevant and more vital.

As we launch this campaign, all of us in this room tonight are the inheritors of a long and established tradition of vision, leadership, guidance and support. We, like USC's founders, know what this university is to the world, and what a valuable role it plays in our surrounding community and beyond. My own understanding of USC's importance grew during my time at Hughes Aircraft, where I gained a deep appreciation for the range of influence this institution has, and what an essential resource we provide in business, technology, medicine, community service, the arts, and beyond. As a board member, I am very proud to be a part of USC's long tradition of excellence, and remain committed to continuing our long, upward trajectory.

We on the Board of Trustees are dedicated to continuing USC's growth, and are pleased to have so many generous friends to help us. In keeping with the university's tradition of visionary leadership, we have taken a long, hard look at our school's needs and strengths. With input from every facet of the USC community, including faculty, students and community leaders, we have designed a series of initiatives intended to take advantage of USC's strengths and continue our advancement. Our new strategic plan maps out the steps necessary to foster USC's next great leap forward, as we move up through the ranks of the world's finest research institutions while maintaining our commitment to quality education and the Southern California community.

Tonight, you and I are part of a long tradition of excellence begun by three men of great foresight and ingenuity. Their commitment to education and community brought the world a vital resource that has provided opportunity for more than a century. Together, you and I can continue that gift for future generations because, like USC's founders, we understand that our dream is necessary and important. We know that this university has a vital role to play in the future of our children, our community, and our nation, and we are dedicated to continuing USC's contribution for many years to come.

Thank you.