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VPGP Sally Pratt Addresses USC Annenberg Graduate Fellowship Symposium

Thank you to all of the graduate students, faculty, staff, and friends of the Graduate School who attended the USC Annenberg Graduate Fellowship Research and Creative Project Symposium yesterday. It was a great event! Please enjoy Vice Provost for Graduate Programs Sally Pratt’s address to the symposium audience.

USC Annenberg Graduate Symposium Address
VPGP Sally Pratt
April 10, 2013

In case there was any doubt at all on your mind, let me confirm that this is the annual Annenberg Graduate Fellowship Symposium for Research and Creative Projects.  Let me further confirm that the symposium brings together Annenberg Graduate Fellows from the Viterbi School of Engineering, the School of Cinematic Arts, and the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism.  It showcases innovative research in communication and digital media – presented by you, our Annenberg fellows – and it serves as the culminating celebration in a year-long program of activities that began with the Annenberg Micro Seminars last September.

The papers and e-posters represent a diverse collection of work, ranging from a poster that maps nuclear radiation in Japan, to an app that tracks gym traffic at the USC Lyon Center, a chip that switches radio frequencies to make encryption unnecessary, and an animated city symphony that celebrates the hidden world of background noises.

There are 65 participating fellows.  And let me tell you, I salute each and every one of you.  I salute the work you have done to bridge disciplines, the work you have done to coordinate your lives as busy people in order to work together, and most of all. I salute you as scholars and creative souls with “fire in your belly” – the “fire” to push not only your ideas, but also your ability to express your ideas, to the nth degree.  It was this notion of an ability to grab ideas, work with others, and push and push the material that caused the gleam in the eye of the Annenberg Foundation when it funded this program.  It is this same notion that puts a spring in the step of your faculty advisors, your deans, and the staff of the Graduate School and Provost’s Office.

I have been reading a book by William Dalrymple, called City of Djinns:  A Year in Delhi.  In Dalrymple’s portrayal, Delhi is a city of many layers:  diachronic historical layers of civilization after civilization that occupied the same geographic spot; and synchronic layers of all the different cultures and economic classes that exist together at any one time.  According to local folklore, it is the djinns, the fire-formed spirits always on the move, that make the city whole, that keep the city alive as a city in all its manifold identities.  Djinns fulfill different functions in different belief systems.  But if you can say that the university is like the city of Delhi in its historical and cultural multifacetedness – and I believe that you can – then, like the djinns, you are lively, life-giving spirits of energy and cohesion that make us whole.  As an individual faculty member, and as an official representative of “The University,” I am so grateful to you for that!

Before closing, I want to acknowledge both the faculty who are here, and all the faculty who have nurtured you and your projects along the way, even if they’re not here at this moment. Please join me in giving a round of applause to our dedicated USC faculty.

I would also like to thank the staff of the Davidson Conference Center for their excellent service.  They help not only with the food, but with the humane and personal tone of this symposium.  Thank you!

And finally, we should thank the graduate school staff who have been helping today, most particularly Assistant Dean for Fellowships, Meredith Drake Reitan and Kate Tegmeyer. They are the brains and the engine of this symposium and the Annenberg Fellows program.  Thank you, Meredith and Kate. We owe you a huge debt of gratitude!

And now, let the celebration of knowledge continue!  Thank you.