Trojan Family Weekend continued with Friday morning’s welcome remarks by President Folt, who was introduced by USC Alumni and parents Foti and Andrea Defterios.
The pair acknowledged her role in raising more than $640 million in scholarship and aid money last year, as well as her role in boosting the university’s academic rankings. 17 of the university’s 22 schools now have programs that are rated top 20 and above in their respective fields – more than any other university in the United States, she said.
After the warm introduction, Folt began the address by saying that USC is “clearly a private [university] with a public heart.”
Folt boasted about the strong Trojan Family and the success stories of former students from the School of Cinematic Arts. She also mentioned how the Stevens Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute received a $150 million grant from the National Institute on Aging to address health disparities in Alzheimer’s research.
Folt cited her background in biology as she spoke on USC’s ongoing ambitious sustainability project, titled “Assignment: Earth.” She shared her plans of going carbon neutral by 2025 and waste neutral by 2028, as well as the efforts that the university has made on eliminating single-use plastic bottles. This is not the first time Folt has discussed reducing the university’s carbon footprint. According to Folt’s State of the University address in April, sustainability has become one of her “moonshots,” a term she coined for her working goals.
One student attendee, who identified themself as a freshman in the School of Dramatic Arts, challenged Folt’s dedication to sustainability by asking about the football program’s partnership with a cryptocurrency platform. Folt went on to describe the various research projects on sustainability at the university, including decarbonization at the Keck School of Medicine, as well as green projects with USC’s Sea Grant, but did not expand on the carbon impact of cryptocurrency.
“You can’t say much about sustainability if you don’t walk the walk. I think we are excelling and walking the walk,” she said.
Despite the talks of her achievements, parents also brought up tough issues, such as what the university plans to do to re-incorporate disaffiliated fraternities back into USC’s fraternity system, in the question and answer session.
“We can’t bring them back. They have to decide to come back,” Folt said.
The university is working with national fraternity leadership in an attempt to bring disaffiliated frats back as registered student organizations. Following the event, families seemed satisfied with her speech and the direction that Folt is taking the school in.
Christy Robinson Bortel, a USC mom, “thought [Folt] was a really clear, inspirational speaker.”
“As a parent, she seemed like a very reassuring leader, especially leading us through a difficult time of the pandemic,” Bortel said.
At the end of the address, Folt ended with a piece of advice to the parents:
“In this dynamic time, opening your mind to [your children’s] flexibility and their need to change and move is probably the greatest thing that you can ever do.”