Culture Network Member Spotlight:

Meet Marcus Anderson

Assistant Dean of Student Services, USC School of Cinematic Arts

What made you decide to join USC’s Culture Network?

I decided to join the USC Culture Network because I am passionate about our school and community, and believe strongly in advocacy and change. I believe we have to invest in culture on a personal and individual basis if we are to have any expectation that the larger community will also invest. I think it’s important that we have a voice in the larger university community; and equally important to understand the culture outside of our immediate surroundings, to understand where and how we fit and work and align with the guiding principles of the institution at large.

Can you give an example of an activity or program that has broken down silos between different departments and has a positive effect on workplace culture?

I teach CNTV 101: Reality Starts Here. It is a mandatory first-year course that all of our undergraduate SCA majors take. One of the primary tenants of the course is breaking down silos. It’s the one and only opportunity for all six of our undergraduate divisions to come together and collaborate and get to know one another. When I took over coordination of the class, I also purposefully chose to embed elements of the USC Culture Journey and our Unifying Values. I ask students to read through USC’s Missions Statement and our Unifying Values and I break down the Culture Journey and the findings of USC as a whole, but also walk them through some of the SCA specific highlights from the previous survey and focus groups. I ask that our students reflect on their personal, professional, and academic values and any differences within those spheres and to take stock of whether or not they align with the values of the community they’ve just joined. I ask all of our students to take the time to assess how important it is to them that the organizations they join align with their own values, that in terms of USC and admissions that is very much an active part of the conversation in extending admission, but the hope is that each of them did their own assessment before accepting their seat and that they engage in this sort of critical lens when it comes to future employment. We also talk through how we as individuals and as an institution can hold each other and ourselves accountable in living the unifying values as members of the USC community. The class as a whole is geared toward introducing our incoming students to SCA and USC, our programs and offerings, support services, and tools they may need to draw from over their four years at USC.

In your experience, how does USC promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace, and how have you contributed to these efforts?

I think one of the most valuable ways that USC promotes DEI in the workplace is through programs like the USC Culture Journey. As a supervisor, I try and create space to allow my staff to participate in any sort of programming. Within the School of Cinematic Arts specifically, I have been a member of our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion council since its founding. I try and be an advocate not just for our students, but for our staff. This year I was also elected into a senate seat on the USC Staff Senate and am serving on the DEI Committee, which I’m very excited for.

Have you taken advantage of any events or trainings sponsored by USC’s Culture Network or other campus partners? If so, how has what you learned there helped you in your role?

I have taken advantage of events and trainings sponsored by USC’s Culture Network. One of the most valuable aspects of this type of programming is simply hearing what other schools and departments are doing within all of these different spheres. Not only does that bring exposure and awareness to different practices, but also creates an opportunity to potentially benchmark. Some of the programs have also introduced me to staff, departments, and support services I otherwise would not have had any opportunity to interact with. Not only has this expanded my network, but it allows me to share more resources with the folks I interact with daily in my actual work.

How do you hope to see USC’s culture evolving in the future, and how do you plan to contribute to this evolution as a member of the Culture Network?

I think the goal and the hope is always that more members of our community will invest and participate in the culture journey in meaningful ways. That this will simply become an actual extension of the work we do daily, that it will just be embedded as a part of our job descriptions. I think many of us met this journey with trepidation, USC as an institution has not always exemplified these unifying values and as a result there was an erosion of trust. Accountability is key in restoring that trust and creating buy in for our continued culture journey, I see that as something to take ownership in within my own function and role and hope that same accountability is mirrored throughout our community.

Marcus Anderson