I am often hard on my beloved employer, USC, because I feel like we make mistakes in how we relate to students and neighbors. Since I also live in West Adams, even though I am not right by the university, I also feel the influence of the university as one of those neighbors. Nowhere is perfect; we at USC should be better than we are in multiple dimensions.
But I also love USC. They took a chance on me when I was a not-particulaly-accomplished young scholar, and they have continued to support me in my attempts to strike out into new and different dimensions with my career as a journeyman scholar. USC is wildly ambitious, but unlike most places that say they are going to move up those all-important rankings, one gets the sense that it might actually be possible here. It’s that striving that I love. It’s interesting.
Mostly though, I am wildly fond of my students and colleagues, and the terrific people who are associated with the university. It is not a university of spoiled rich kids, any more than any other university is, and perhaps nothing speaks to that better than the story of Louis Zamperini, who died this week in Los Angeles at the age of 97. His wear service was chronicled in the book Unbroken. The son of Italian immigrants in Torrance, CA, he found his way through athletics to USC, where he graduated in 1940 after setting a record for the mile that stood for 15 years.
Here is the write up from the University with the quote from Coach Allice:
“Today is a sad day at USC, knowing that the wonderful life of Louis Zamperini has ended after 97 remarkable years. I can think of no more famous Trojan than Louie, with his combination of athletic exploits and war heroics,” said former USC track and field Coach Ron Allice. “The fact that he still is the only Trojan to win the NCAA outdoor mile championship, which he did twice some 75 years ago, speaks volumes of his athletic ability. I know I will miss him, as will so many others. He was a great man.”