University of Southern California

About USC

C. L. Max Nikias


C. L. Max Nikias became the USC’s 11th president in August 2010. He is the holder of the Robert C. Packard President’s Chair and the Malcolm R. Currie Chair in Technology and the Humanities, and also chairs the USC Hospitals Governing Board. He holds faculty appointments in both electrical engineering and the classics, and leads special freshman seminars each fall on ancient Athenian democracy and drama.

Nikias has been at USC since 1991, serving as a professor, director of national research centers, dean, provost and now president. During his 20-year career at the university, he has been credited with recruiting new academic leadership, strengthening the academic medical enterprise, solidifying the USC Viterbi School of Engineering as a top-tier school, attracting a series of major donations, creating innovative cross-disciplinary programs, enhancing globalization efforts and increasing support for students.

He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member of the National Academy of Engineering, a charter fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI), and a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The Chronicle of Higher Education has called Nikias a “prodigious fundraiser,” and The New York Times selected him as one of a small number of national figures “who make sports’ little corner of the world a better place.”


Two leadership gifts are announced at Nikias’ inauguration on October 15, 2010: $50 million from Ming Hsieh to establish the USC Ming Hsieh Institute for Research on Engineering-Medicine for Cancer, and $50 million from the Annenberg Foundation for a new building for the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.


Nikias leads a delegation of faculty, administrators and trustees to India. The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books kicks off its 16th storied year on the University Park campus. In March, USC receives the largest gift in its history: $200 million from Dana and David Dornsife to provide unrestricted endowment support for the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and to create the Dornsife Scholars Program. In May, John and Julie Mork and their family give $110 million — the single largest gift for scholarships in USC’s history — to create the USC Mork Family Scholars Program. In June, the W. M. Keck Foundation announces a gift of $150 million to provide essential research funding and brand USC’s medical enterprise as a cohesive whole. In September, USC launches the most ambitious fundraising effort in the history of higher education: the $6 billion Campaign for the University of Southern California.