I had the fortune to study at a variety of schools during my college years. I studied and ran at University of Arizona for a couple of years and then went to Europe to study at University or Portland’s Salzburg program. That experience opened my eyes up to the world we lived in and I wanted to see more of it. I was lucky enough to get into the School of International Relations at USC in the Fall of my Senior year. I had studied liberal arts in Europe but the USC experience provided me exposure to Africa, Asia and the complexities in the world where we lived. While at USC I had the chance to study in China as one of the first US Universities to spend any significant time in the Peoples Republic of China. We created an opportunity out of what many viewed as a challeninge summer program. This opportunity allowed me to see early on the vision that USC had in pushing the edges with programs that are leading the way.
I have four kids and have been to more college orientations and tours that I can count. My youngest son is a very good student and was being considered at many of the top schools in the country. It was a great opportunity for my wife and I to see what each school had to offer. Brown, Harvard, Princeton,Georgetown, Villanova, U Chicago, Northwestern, Gonzaga, Stanford, Santa Clara, Claremont and USC. This was a great list. I was secretly and quietly watching the process and what would be the best fit for my son. There are many great schools out there but I saw some special things happening at USC. My career at Nike and activities outside showed me that my ability to discern things from a variety of viewpoints through a critical thinking approach was what I saw now as a great advantage in todays rapid fire world. At the orientation at USC I listened to head of the Dornsife school explain why they had 141 different majors and how one could customize and create a multidisciplinary major if that is something that would create a passion for learning. There is the Harmon Institute for Polymathic Studies where students learn about different subjects by experts in those subjects for the sake of learning. These are amazing opportunities and something that I see as a future in how we teach and learn. One of my favorite professors at USC had returned after a decade at the Kennedy School and I had the opportunity to reconnect with him as my son was looking at his options.
Dr Steve Lamy loved hearing what I had been doing for the previous 30 years as I parlayed an International Relations degree into an exciting career at one of the most innovative companies in the world, Nike. He invited me to come speak to a group of students at USC. I had the opportunity in November and have taken that presentation, connected with several of the students and we are exploring how we can leverage the IncubatorU approach in a University that has silos of excellence. Within the walls of these institutions there is an amazing amount of creativity and innovation happens by intersecting and leveraging the experience and knowledge between the different schools. I am working with students from the School of International Relations, Business School, Entrepreneurship programs, School of Social work and Communication to help accelerate some of the ideas and companies that are incubating from within USC and with other schools that have similar challenges.
There is the same opportunity at several other schools in the Northwest to leverage the potential amongst these students and schools by intersecting with companies and investors to deliver fearless innovation together. I am inspired by the motivation of these universities to lead in a way that challenges the students, breaks down some of the barriers to learn and to make innovation a common and attainable practice.