Interim President Wanda Austin reflects on USC’s growth this year in her State of the University address

Austin did not directly mention the university’s recent scandals and controversy in this annual speech, but instead focused on positive changes at USC

USC Interim President Wanda Austin delivered her first, and possibly her last, State of the University Address Wednesday to a crowd of donors, trustees and faculty at the Town & Gown Ballroom on University Park Campus.

Austin addressed four discrete topics of reflection over the course of her speech before moving on to detail USC's plans for the future. These topics were the excellence, community engagement, wellness and financial health of the University in the past year.

Austin spent the majority of her speech discussing recent achievements in university life and lauding the current state of the university, giving special attention to its faculty and staff.

"You don't just work for this university," Austin said, addressing USC's staff, "you are this university."

Additionally, Austin emphasized the importance of USC's role in the greater Los Angeles community, citing the $35 million USC invests in communities around L.A. annually. She also discussed the current renovations on the Los Angeles Coliseum, mentioning that 61 percent of the crews restoring the landmark comprise local residents.

Austin also reminded the USC community of recent changes in the wellness of the University, including establishing the Office of the Ombuds, hiring a new Sexual Assault Prevention specialist at Engemann and appointing Sarah Van Orman as Chief Student Health Officer at the Keck School of Medicine.

"We're committed to making wellness a priority," Austin stated.

Throughout her speech, Austin did not directly address the numerous scandals that have been hanging a shadow over the USC community in recent years, though she obliquely mentioned them in passing.

"Over the past year, we've confronted some unexpected issues and costs," Austin said while discussing the financial health of the university, which she claimed it's "very strong and very stable."

USC filed an agreement Tuesday on a $215 million settlement proposed in October, providing victims of former gynecologist George Tyndall financial compensation for the abuse they endured during his time employed at USC's student health center.

Six USC former students also filed a lawsuit on Monday accusing a former men's sexual health physician of sexual abuse and discrimination based on their sexual orientation.

"Just yesterday, we found we have some more unexpected issues that we're going to have to address," Austin continued, indirectly referencing the lawsuit.

Little else about the scandals was mentioned.

Austin did not share when the Board of Trustees would announce a new president, but she assured the audience that the Board is choosing from a pool of excellent candidates and would announce the next president "at the appropriate time."

To conclude her speech, Austin reiterated that USC is a great college to work for, study at and contribute to.

"We're a great university because we have great people. We have great faculty, great staff and great students. We have proud [alumni] and we have grateful friends," she said.