Many things could be said about Carol Folt’s tenure, four years and counting, as president of the University; but it has certainly not been boring. Some of USC’s most drastic changes and actions took place under her watch: the complete closure of in-person instruction, for a year and a half, due to the coronavirus pandemic; the funneling of at least tens of millions of dollars into new initiatives, new facilities and even new campuses; and even more millions to settling some of the most devastating scandals in the University’s history, both during and before her term.
Folt seems to have embraced the controlled chaos of her presidency. In Spring 2023, the phrase “everything, everywhere, all at once” emerged as somewhat of an unofficial slogan — no doubt motivated by the fact that USC alum Ke Huy Quan, who co-starred in the film of the same name, had just won an Oscar for his performance. She repeated it multiple times in her most recent State of the University address. She’s referenced it on Instagram (“@USCedu’s newest faculty are joining a university doing everything, everywhere, all at once,” she wrote in a post Aug. 24). Speaking with Fortune magazine in May, she cited the film as an inspiration for launching the $1 billion Frontiers of Computing initiative.
Even when we sat down with Folt for an exclusive interview one afternoon in August, it was the driving theme of our conversation.