President Carol Folt looks forward in State of the University address as USC prepares to welcome students back to campus in the fall

Folt discussed numerous challenges and triumphs the University faced over the past year ranging from Covid-19 vaccine distribution to the $1.1 billion George Tyndall lawsuit settlement.

President Carol Folt announced students will be required to be vaccinated for the fall semester during her State of the University address on April 26. Folt presented a range of USC accomplishments during the event, including opening the largest vaccination site in east LA, distributing more than $26 million in CARES ACT and other emergency funds and administering 180,000 tests and 50,000 COVID-19 vaccines.

While presenting an outline for the upcoming fall semester, Folt said the university will require all students who intend on attending campus must be fully-vaccinated. USC declared the fall semester will feature a full-return to campus in February.

“We will have exceptions for people that have religious or medical reasons that would make it not possible for them to take [the vaccine],” Folt said. The president added more information regarding vaccine policies will be available soon.

USC’s $1.1 billion settlement payments toward the sexual assault victims of USC gynecologist George Tyndall will be partially paid by selling nonessential assets owned by the university, including the former presidential mansion. Due to low interest rates, Folt said the university may also take loans to fund the settlement payments.

The global reach of USC topped new heights as there were 50 billion impressions on USC related topics and publications. USC technological advances were prevalent throughout the pandemic, as 14 digital events were hosted everyday since the start of the pandemic.

“I see USC progressing even further as a top global research university, a dynamic hub for rediscovery, innovation, economic prosperity, humanity and social justice,” Folt said.

With an university-wide increase in emphasis on diversity, Folt hired USC’s first chief inclusion and diversity officer, Christopher Manning in March 2021. Manning is in charge of fostering a spirit of respect, belonging, and understanding at USC.

USC also established a Community Advisory Board (CAB), a program that will work with USC’S department of safety to strengthen trust within DPS and the USC community.

Faculty and alumni continued to demonstrate many academic achievements throughout the year. Patrisse Cullors, a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter Network and USC alumni, received her Nobel Peace Prize nomination for her work with the movement. USC faculty members also received six National Science Foundation career awards and two Schwarzman Scholars. USC also received over $1 billion in research grants for the first time this year.

USC’s endowment fund reached $6.9 billion in 2020, a $1.2 billion increase from the year before. The university received $660 million in gifts and pledges from alumni and donors in the past year. Folt said the university will increase its funding of mental health services and university research.

USC received 20% more undergraduate applications than the previous year, following the national trend of a sharp rise in college applications across all universities.

The financial aid department expanded their free tuition policy, which provides tuition-free education for families making less than $80,000, and now will include incoming sophomores and freshmen over the next three years. Folt announced that ⅔ of all USC students receive some form of financial aid.

Folt also noted that students were eager to move back to campus, as two full undergraduate classes showed interest in living on campus.

“We look forward to seeing you in person very, very soon,” Folt said. “Stay well, be safe and Fight On.”