“Trustee Scholars enrich academic life here by increasing the competitive level in the classroom.”
n Investigating interfaces between robotics and the World Wide Web.” “Synthesis of lipoxin backbone
structuring using FT-NMR and flash column chromatography.” “Vortex shedding from a wing-body junction.”
The preceding may sound like a list of Ph.D. dissertations or the research projects of senior faculty. However, these diverse and scholarly titles represent just a sampling of the kinds of projects that Trustee Scholars work on every year.
What are Trustee Scholars? They are 100 or more of the brightest and most talented students in each class at USC. Recipients of the university’s most prestigious and valuable scholarship, Trustee Scholars come from across the nation to find a community that both welcomes and challenges them.
Of course, academics aren’t the only area in which Trustee Scholars excel. Although this year’s class entered with an average high school GPA of 4.17 and an average SAT score of 1469, meeting the minimum score require-ments only gets potential scholars past the first cut. From there, students come to campus for interviews and eventually are chosen based on their leadership qualities and their talents in areas such as athletics or the arts.

Attracting the Nation’s Best
What draws such outstanding students in part is the full-tuition scholarship each Trustee Scholar is awarded, in addition to financial aid that covers housing and living costs. When the university first offered these comprehensive scholarship packages in 1963, the program was available to only 25 students. In 1992, USC opened the program to 100 students, and this year welcomed its largest class of 120 Trustee Scholars.
The success of the program and its students convinced the university to increase the number of participants. Although growth of the program has posed new financial-aid challenges, the impact of the Trustee Scholars on the rest of the student body – as well as on the faculty – merited the change. Trustee Scholars raise the level of academic excellence at USC. Whether it’s pressing a class discussion or heading a laboratory experiment, Trustee Scholars are comfortable being leaders.
“Trustee Scholars enrich academic life here by increasing the competitive level in the classroom,” says Kristine Dillon, associate vice president of student affairs.

A Small College Within a Major University
Trustee Scholarship offers are made through the academic departments, whose faculty interview students who wish to major in that field. Interviewers make their recommendations and then hope that these talented students choose USC.
Most do. While many Trustee Scholars are admitted to institutions like Harvard, Yale, Columbia and M.I.T., these universities do not offer the personalized attention or financial benefit that are the hallmark of the USC Trustee Scholars program. Indeed, for many students the scholarship proves to be the deciding factor in the decision to attend USC. Many also cite the accessibility of professors and the special attention given them, which creates a small liberal arts college atmosphere within the size and resources of a large urban university.
“The Trustee Scholars receive a lot of support,” says Eleanor Hoppe, director of academic recognition programs. Seniors in the program receive a special lunch in the spring at which President Steven B. Sample speaks. The scholars elect their own steering committee, which plans special events including a winter retreat at which they are accompanied by faculty. In addition, Trustee Scholars receive special guidance and attention when applying for prestigious fellowships and grants, such as the Rhodes Scholarships.

Community Involvement
Since a propensity for leadership is a key trait of those students selected as Trustee Scholars, it is no surprise that they typically assume leadership positions in campus-wide groups and councils. Trustee Scholars participate in such university organizations as the Neighborhood Academic Initiative, Emerging Leaders Program, Songfest, Homeless Ministry, Trojan Knights, Student Conduct Peer Review Board, USC Crew and KSCR, the university’s student radio station.
Off-campus activities include work with the Department of Emergency Medicine at Los Angeles County+USC Medical Center, Society of Women Engineers, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, American Society of Civil Engineers and the Martin Luther King Junior Hospital. In addition, scholars hold membership in at least 21 honor societies. Others have become presidents of their fraternities or sororities or have played varsity and intramural sports.
Trustee Scholars are strongly encouraged to study abroad at least one semester as part of their undergraduate experience. Students who have pursued this option have studied in countries such as Australia, China, Russia and Zimbabwe, as well as in most European countries.

The Program’s Future
Besides contributing to USC and its community, Trustee Scholars aid the university in its recruitment efforts nationwide. The prestigious award encourages the finest students everywhere to apply to USC; those not awarded the full scholarship are often candidates for presidential and dean’s scholarships, which also offer substantial tuition aid. Of course, with so many qualified students receiving awards – in addition to other deserving students who need financial aid to cover the cost of tuition – the university has found its financial-aid budget stretched to capacity.
While remaining firmly committed to the Trustee Scholar and other scholarship programs, the university is now looking for new ways to provide for them in perpetuity. In response, friends and alumni of the university have begun endowing Trustee Scholarships. Stanley and Ilene Gold recently committed $1 million to endow the Gold Family Trustee Scholar-ships, which in addition to covering tuition will fund overseas studies for two Trustee Scholars each year. With the ongoing support of such alumni and friends, USC will enroll even more of the nation’s top students – students whose contributions to the university will continue to be priceless for generations to come. l

For more information on how you can support the Trustee Scholar program, contact Bill Loadvine at 213-740-3062.


 


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