One day after the university announced the fall semester will be held fully online, despite efforts to transition to in-person learning amid the coronavirus pandemic, USC President Carol Folt delivered a pep talk to incoming students Thursday, assuring them normalcy will eventually return.
“The day will come sooner than we know and our campus will burst back into life once again,” Folt told the incoming freshmen, graduate and transfer students during an online convocation ceremony.
“In my first weeks as president of USC, my husband and I took a hike in Griffith Park and we witnessed the gorgeous wildflower superbloom of 2019,” she said. “It was a breathtaking riot of colors — reds, yellows, purples — and that superbloom reminds me of you. And when we’re all back, we’ll bloom together again and draw inspiration from the energy, the passion and commitment each of you carries in your hearts.”
USC announced in June that it planned to return to primarily in-person instruction for the fall semester, but with coronavirus cases spiking, it scaled back that effort in July, saying most courses would be online, while still planning for 10% to 20% of courses to be held in person or in a “hybrid” fashion.
On Wednesday, however, the university scaled back even further, saying all courses will be online this fall, with limited exceptions for clinical education. The decision was the result of state and county health officials delaying the release of re-opening health protocols for colleges and universities amid efforts to control the spread of COVID-19.
In her online presentation Thursday, Folt acknowledged a recent thwarted move by the federal government to force international students out of the country if they are not attending in-person classes, along with efforts by the Trump administration to revoke the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protects hundreds of thousands of young people from deportation.
“I know it’s been a particularly stressful time for our international students and our DACA students, and I want to recognize their courage and steadfastness in the face of many difficulties,” Folt said. “We’ll do all we can to help you have full access to your education at USC.”
Folt noted that the incoming class includes citizens of 56 countries.
“What a moment this is — a time of great change, and for a creative learning community, that is fuel,” she said. “It’s driving us to find news ways of working together, to collaborate at warp speed. We’re transforming the way we learn and communicate. USC has always been a hotbed of technology-driven innovation and creativity in the sciences and medicine, in business, education, engineering, in arts and in culture. And what flows from this can be literally life changing.”
She offered three main pieces of advice for the incoming students, telling them to quickly get acquainted with their professors, noting “they will challenge you, nurture you and they’ll help you succeed.” She also advised students to “have respect for others and lead with kindness and gratitude,” and “be that person who’s known for being interested in others.”
Finally, she urged them to “use your time here at USC to dream and dream big.”
“You’re in the perfect place to experiment, to shift gears and change course, to keep asking, `Why not?’ USC is where big dreams are nurtured and incubated and where dreams can become impactful, even world-changing, achievements.”