The important role and legacy of women at USC

We explore the past and present as Women’s History Month comes to a close.

In 1880, when USC first opened its doors, 17 female students formed part of the initial entering class, according to Claude Zachary, USC Facto University Historian. He further confirmed that three women served on the first faculty group at USC that year.

MS Jennie Allen Bovard, worked as a professor of English Literature, Physiology and Hygiene. She was also the founder of the Omicron Chapter of Kappa Alpha Theta and the spouse of the first University president, known as Marion McKinley Bovard. M. D. McChain operated as a Professor in Elocution and Assistant Teacher in English Literature. Maria Pruneda, however, served as a Latina teacher in Spanish and Instrumental Music.

“Maria Pruneda was a pianist and a student of Miguel S. Arévalo, a guitarist-composer in late nineteenth-century California,” Zachary said. She made her debut in Los Angeles on September 9, 1876, and performed publicly thereafter in the area during the late 1870s and early 1880s.”

Still, it took more than a century for a woman to be the leader of this institution. Since 1880, USC has had 13 presidents with only two women being in that position: Wanda M. Austin, who served as interim president in 2018-2019, and the current USC president, Carol L. Folt.

Recently, Folt stated in a semester update that “USC turned a hundred and forty-years-old” and how she thinks “often about how much USC has accomplished since its humble beginnings.”

Today, there are 24,820 students who identify as female at USC out of a total of 46,107 according to Brandy Leevy, executive assistant to the Dean of Admission at USC. This means that 53.6% of the student population is made up of women.

Heather Rosoff, director of Data and Policy Analysis at USC, informed that USC had 2,036 full-time female faculty members during the 2019-2020 fiscal year. Comparatively, there were 2,506 full time male faculty members in the same period.

Indeed, women have come a long way at USC and have made several accomplishments. America Ferrera graduated from USC in 2013 with a degree in international relations and currently stands as one of the most notable actresses in Hollywood and has been involved as an activist for some causes.

Viry Martina graduated with a master’s degree in construction engineering and management, and now plays an important role in the construction of a bridge that will be able to connect San Diego and Tijuana.

Jessica Rivera graduated with her Master of Music degree in 1988 and is recognized for her involvement in music productions. The women who now attend USC will likely come across very promising futures as these alumni have.