USC and the Military: 100 Years of Fighting On

The following is an excerpt from the Spring 2017 feature article appearing in Trojan Family Magazine. For full text, photos and timeline, click here.

IN WHAT THE GERMAN kaiser called a “dark day and dark hour,” Europe in 1914 plunged into war. The United States declared itself neutral in what would come to be known as World War I, and in Los Angeles, USC President George Finley Bovard ’84—one of USC’s earliest graduates—cautioned the university’s young men not to abandon their studies to seek excitement, but to be prepared for duty if called upon. “If the time comes, we will all go—I’ll go myself and lead the whole college,” said the 58-year-old Methodist minister.

While the U.S. eventually entered the conflict, Bovard’s declaration never came to pass. But when USC began training Army officers in 1914, it laid the underpinnings for a long relationship between the university and the military.

Today these ties are more robust than ever. Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) programs at USC prepare future leaders. USC faculty members teach veterans who are pursuing their degrees on campus or online. Researchers rigorously study the complex health needs of war veterans and their families, while other scientists and engineers partner with the military to develop technology in virtual reality, telemedicine and beyond. Just last year, the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at USC opened, giving L.A. County’s more than 325,000 veterans and their families access to free mental health services. Operating in partnership with the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work and the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, the clinic is funded by a $15.7 million grant from the Cohen Veterans Network.

In 2016, USC also saw the launch of Army Research Laboratory West, the largest U.S. Army-sponsored university research outpost in the nation. Based at the USC Institute for Creative Technologies in L.A.’s Playa Vista neighborhood, ARL West is pioneering an open campus model for closer collaboration among military, academic and industry experts in science and technology.

And when the Military Times released its 2016 picks for the best colleges for veterans, USC was one of only a few private research universities on the list.

“USC’s commitment to our military members has been forged for decades,” USC President C. L. Max Nikias says. “Our university is committed to helping veterans succeed, both by providing access to a world class education and through research and care that ensures their well-being and place in society.”

Read full text in Trojan Family Magazine