USC-India: A Global Partnership for the Future

USC-India: A Global Partnership for the Future

USC-India: A Global Partnership for the FutureFebruary 14, 2024: “The school of schools for the country of countries.” That’s how USC President Carol Folt framed her first visit to India last month in an effort to ramp up the university’s long-standing and multifaceted relationship with the country.

Folt led a delegation composed of deans, faculty researchers and senior administrators on a three-city tour touting the strengths and advantages of USC as a university and research partner of choice for Indian students, businesses and government organizations. Branded “USCIndiaPartner the Future,” the trip built on an educational and professional relationship with the country that is more than 50 years in the making.

During the tour that featured an innovation summit, panel discussions and alumni events, Folt and her delegation met with dignitaries, business and academic leaders, hundreds of university alumni, and Indian journalists in Mumbai, Bengaluru and Delhi.

“The time is right now to supercharge the USCIndia global partnership,” Folt said to reporters, Indian officials and USC community members. “Through this partnership, our students can develop specialized knowledge and a network of support necessary for launching new products or new businesses, for shaping policy or inventing solutions to challenges in health care, sustainability, science and technology.”

In expressing her desire to create the West Coast hub for a two-way, American-Indian collaboration, Folt stressed that USC intends to continue to find ways to build partnerships with entities based in IndiaUSC, offering a major global research center in the heart of one of the world’s most dynamic intersections of tech, art and culture, provides Indian students and partners with opportunities unparalleled by any other university.

During the trip’s Innovation Summit in Mumbai on Jan. 16, attendees joined Folt, U.S. Ambassador to India Eric Garcetti and industry leaders for presentations and panel discussions. Topics included the role of higher education in supporting India’s initiatives, the importance of an innovative mindset for early-career success, and how the collaboration between India and the USC School of Cinematic Arts is creating future media makers.

USC deans turn momentum into action 

Several USC deans and faculty who have already been conducting research and collaborations with partners in India joined Folt to share specific actions their schools are planning or implementing to fulfill the goals of the Partner the Future mission.

This included the announcement that Gaurav Sukhatme — who has been the executive vice dean of USC Viterbi — will now serve as the inaugural director of the School of Advanced Computing, USC’s newest school. Sukhatme, who was born and raised in India, aims to position USC as one of the leading sources of tech talent on the West Coast. Meanwhile, USC Marshall School of Business Dean Geoffrey Garrett announced a new memorandum of understanding (MOU) with one of India’s premier business schools, BITS School of Management in Mumbai. In addition, USC Viterbi Dean Yannis Yortsos announced an MOU with Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru.

A top choice among Indian students

In remarks throughout her trip, Folt emphasized similarities between Los Angeles and Mumbai, which have been sister cities since 1972. USC routinely ranks as a top choice among Indian students and draws the third-largest group of students from the country among the 71 public and private U.S. universities that are members of the Association of American Universities.

This fall semester was no exception. Nearly 2,700 students from India are enrolled at USC — marking a 36% increase in Indian enrollment since fall 2019 (pre-pandemic). Indian students now represent 16% of the university’s international enrollment, which exceeded 17,000 this year.

“As a global leader in both education and research, we believe that the bridge between USC and India will provide thousands more students from India with opportunities to pursue their dreams, positioning them to influence development, economic growth, policy and innovation at home and worldwide,” Folt said.

The growing Trojan Family

When students from India first arrive at USC, they have a network waiting for them. They can join the university’s largest student organization, the Association of Indian Students, whose roots go back to the early 1970s. The Trojan Cricket Club, established in 1992, is one of the top five sports clubs at USC, consistently attracting around 200 new members annually.

Folt described the energy of the fast-paced trip as “kinetic” during a meeting with alumni and industry leaders in Mumbai.

“When we ‘Partner the Future,’ we will create new opportunities and unite humanity to take on some of the most pressing global challenges of our time,” she said. “We’re grateful for your support, energy and dedication in bringing the USC spirit to India.”