University of Southern California

USC Student Affairs and Campus Life

Letter from President Nikias: Michael L. Jackson

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


Dear USC community,

I am writing to announce that Dr. Michael L. Jackson has elected to step down from his position as vice president for student affairs, effective at the end of this academic year, June 30, 2013.

For 18 years, Dr. Jackson has served in this key leadership role with tremendous distinction, assisting the university in its efforts to become a top destination for students around the world, as well as a fully residential university. Dr. Jackson has touched countless students with his vision and compassion, and I know the entire USC community joins me in commending his outstanding service.

Moving forward, Dr. Jackson will take a one-year sabbatical from USC, and then return as emeritus vice president and executive director of International Advancement. He will also continue to serve as a professor of higher education in the USC Rossier School of Education. The provost will soon initiate a national search for a new leader for the division of student affairs.

Dr. Jackson and his wife, Rev. Diana Akiyama, were recruited from Stanford University, where he served as dean of students, and she as associate dean of the Chapel at Stanford. Rev. Akiyama subsequently earned her Ph.D. from the USC School of Religion and Social Ethics.

During his time at USC, Dr. Jackson has had a major impact on services and facilities for students, including the construction of the International Residential College at Parkside, the Arts and Humanities Residential College, the Ronald Tutor Campus Center, and most recently, the Engemann Student Health Center. He also oversaw the expansion of the USC Career Center, the Center for Women and Men, the Center for Academic Support, Orientation Programs, residential colleges, and the refurbishment of Lyon Recreation Center.

Under his leadership, the division established the Office of Student Support and Advocacy and the Trojans Care for Trojans program to support students in crisis; the LGBT Resource Center; the Office of Transfer and Veteran Student Programs; the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Leadership Development; the Office of Parent Programs; and the Hong Kong Parents Association.

In 2001-02 and 2005-06, during the leadership transitions at the university, Dr. Jackson oversaw undergraduate admissions and financial aid, ensuring that the university met its enrollment goals for this key operation.

In 2003-04, Dr. Jackson served as president of the 13,000 member National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA). In 2008, he was the recipient of the Scott Goodnight Award, NASPA’s highest award for outstanding service as a dean. From 2002-12 was a governor-appointed public member of the California Educational Facilities (CEFA), which authorizes bonds for the financing of building and facility improvement projects at private colleges and universities in the state. He currently is completing a second three-year term as a commissioner of the Western Association of Senior Colleges (WASC). He is also a trustee of the Stevenson School in Pebble Beach, California.

During his time at USC, Dr. Jackson also has been a very successful fundraiser, garnering large grants and gifts from federal agencies, foundations, alumni, parents, and friends of USC in the United States, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, and Indonesia. These gifts have supported the building of residential colleges, the Campus Center, programs for students with learning differences, and the diversification of faculties in American colleges and universities. Among his successes, Dr. Jackson was instrumental in securing the $10 million endowment to establish the USC Kortschak Center for Learning and Creativity; the $2 million endowment established by Nadine and Bill Tilley to ensure that the USC Traveler mascot tradition continues; and the more than $2 million raised to fund the International Plaza in the Ronald Tutor Campus Center from USC alumni and parents from Asia.

As we acknowledge Dr. Jackson’s stellar service to USC, we wish him continued success in the next phase of his career. His contributions to this university are both extensive and exceptional, and for this, we are all truly grateful.

Yours truly,

C. L. Max Nikias, President

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