Wanda Austin: USC President For the Interim period

The USC Viterbi alumna, USC trustee and former aerospace executive becomes the first woman and African-American to lead the university

Photo/Karen Ballard

Wanda Austin, Ph.D. ISE ’88, former president and CEO of The Aerospace Corp., was named USC’s president for the interim period in early August 2018. She is the first woman and the first African-American to hold the position.

I want us to have that culture of: Yes, we did a good job, but if we work on it — if we try something a little different, if we bring in some other people — we can add another dimension to what we’ve already achieved.

Austin’s Trojan ties run deep. She earned her Ph.D. in systems engineering under Behrokh Khoshnevis, Dean’s professor in the Daniel J. Epstein Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering. Her dissertation, won the Best Thesis of the Year Award from the Society for Computer Simulation. In later years, she kept her affiliation as research professor in industrial and systems engineering.

From 2008 until 2016, Austin headed The Aerospace Corp., a leading architect for national security space programs, overseeing 3,600 employees and growing revenues to $950 million annually. A 2014 Viterbi Award winner as a distinguished alumna, she served on President Barack Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology until January 2017.

Austin has served on the USC Board of Trustees since 2010. She said she looks forward to serving her alma mater: “On a national level, we need to make sure that people understand the phenomenal things that are happening on this campus.”