Center for Studies in Higher Education
Undergraduate Education, Best Practices, Leadership, University of Southern California
- Author(s): Jackson, Michael L.
- et al.
The University of Southern California (USC) transformed its undergraduate education program by making it a top priority in its strategic plans for the last two decades. The undergraduate experience was thoroughly studied and findings were used to determine what needed to be changed to improve the educational experience for students in and outside of the classroom. The institution has spent over $1.5B to hire new faculty to teach undergraduates, construct new residential colleges and renovate older ones (all led by tenured faculty), and build a new health center, campus center, and spaces in the USC College and professional schools dedicated to undergraduate academic programs, support services, and co-curricular programs. The key to the transformation was leadership provided by its late President Steven B. Sample and the university leaders he recruited to take on this big challenge. The team was focused and empowered to make administrative and academic changes, in concert with deans and faculty leaders, and given resources to turn thoughts, dreams and hopes into reality. The results are clear and demonstrate that institutions can improve undergraduate education by making it a high priority, allocating resources to recruit and hire outstanding faculty, and expand and improve programs, activities and facilities that directly serve undergraduates.