Michael UreñaMember, USC Master Plan Advisory Committee
President, North Area Neighborhood Development Council
Michael Ureña took a job at USC in 1999, purchased a home a few blocks away from the University Park campus and settled in. Then tragedy struck: A next-door neighbor was shot and killed, and not long afterward a stray bullet from a drive-by shooting hit and killed a local woman. Seeing the need for a change, Ureña threw himself into community politics and lobbied for improvements that would prevent these types of incidents from occurring. His efforts have led to the repair and addition of new streetlamps throughout the neighborhood as well as the closure of more than 50 locations considered to be nuisance houses. Because of his devotion to the neighborhood, Ureña was asked to serve on the USC Master Plan Advisory Committee.
Ureña’s position is unique, as he is strongly committed to both the university and the community. The opinions he brings to the table represent an amalgam of goals that he believes will benefit both parties. The master plan, Ureña said, should integrate diverse objectives. He hopes that it will include the construction of a neighborhood marketplace, help address the lack of parking and create an interface that fosters dialogue between the community and the school. “Integrating USC with the surrounding community is the most important part of the master plan to me,” Urena said.
An Arizona Wildcat, Ureña earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Arizona (UA) in 1991. After working for eight years as an audiovisual services supervisor and senior media technician at UA, he joined the Trojan Family as an information technology (IT) manager for the USC Marshall School of Business. He earned an MBA from the Marshall School in 2005.
The neighborhood’s involvement in the creation of the master plan, Ureña said, shows that USC is committed to a partnership that acknowledges that the futures of both the university and community are joined together. “There is a lot to learn from everyone,” he added.