USC installs its 11th president; $100M donation announced

C.L. Max Nikias was inaugurated as USC's 11th president, Oct. 15, 2010.
C.L. Max Nikias was inaugurated as USC's 11th president, Oct. 15, 2010.

Listen to story

Download this story 1.0MB

The University of Southern California today installed C.L. “Max” Nikias as its 11th president. The electrical engineer — originally from Cyprus — presided over an inauguration ceremony at the school’s main campus near downtown Los Angeles.

With applause and fireworks, USC trustees presented Nikias with the presidential medallion of office.

Nikias spoke before a sea of students, supporters and faculty who wore colorful caps and gowns befitting an academic procession.

The crowd filled the huge green space from Doheny Memorial Library to Bovard Auditorium. Some stood and most sat in white folding chairs during Nikias’ speech.

“My commitment to you is to turn the world’s attention to you as the women and men who will drive society forward," said Nikias. "My commitment to you is to seek relentlessly the outside resources and raise the funds you need in order to secure academic excellence for the long haul.”

Nikias’ USC career spans 19 years as a professor, researcher, dean, vice president and provost.

Student Michael Argueta says he’s familiar with the new president’s background. The USC junior — who’s studying health — was one of the flag bearers during the ceremony.

“I wanted to be part of this big event and also see the inauguration for the first time and I always wanted to be part of something great so I thought this would be a perfect chance," Argueta said.

Before the installment ceremony ended, USC administrators announced that supporters had donated $100 million to the private university. At least half the money comes from Wallis Annenberg and the Annenberg Foundation — two of the school’s biggest donors

That news ended the program the way Nikias ended his speech — on a high note.

“This is the great adventure," Nikia emphasized. "All this is the great journey. All this is the way forward to the destined reign of Troy. Thank you and fight on! Always!”

Nikias was among 75 candidates university officials had considered for the head job at USC.