Karen Symms Gallagher was among the Trojans honored as students, faculty and administrators celebrated the university’s 39th annual Academic Honors Convocation.

Gallagher was presented with the university’s top honor, the Presidential Medallion, awarded to those who have brought honor and distinction to the institution.

Gallagher served as dean of the USC Rossier School of Education for two decades starting in 2000. Under her leadership, the school attained and sustained its position among the top 15 graduate schools of education in the country, according to U.S. News & World Report’s national rankings.

After deciding not to seek a fifth term as dean, in July she returned to the school’s research faculty. She specializes in issues of equity related to women in leadership and holds the Veronica and David Hagen Chair in Women’s Leadership.

“Karen has changed the way we think about education and empowered so many in our community,” USC President Carol L. Folt said. “And she’s inspired everyone around her by putting USC’s mission into practice, day after day.”

Also honored at the online event were:


Faculty members honored at USC Academic Honors Convocation

Distinguished ProfessorsAwarded very selectively to those whose accomplishments have brought special renown to USC.

  • Susan L. Forsburg
  • Sherman Jackson
  • Behrokh Khoshnevis
  • Mahta Moghaddam
  • Pedro Noguera

University ProfessorsAwarded based on multidisciplinary interests and significant accomplishments in several disciplines.

  • Estela Mara Bensimon
  • Yang Chai
  • Steve Kay
  • Shrikanth Narayanan

Faculty Lifetime Achievement AwardAwarded to a very select number of retired faculty at the annual Academic Honors Convocation, the USC Faculty Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes eminent careers and notable contributions to the university, the profession and the community.

  • Lois W. Banner
  • Harry DeAngelo
  • Ronald R. Garet
  • Robert A. Scholtz

Phi Kappa Phi Faculty Recognition Award: Founded in 1897, Phi Kappa Phi is the oldest interdisciplinary honor society at USC.

  • Bettine Birge
  • Priya Jaikumar
  • Matthew Pratt
  • Shang-Hua Teng

Provost’s Mentoring Award: The Provost’s Mentoring Award honors an individual faculty member whose investment in and generosity toward the academic and professional success of other USC faculty, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students or undergraduate students demonstrate exemplary mentoring.

  • Michael A. Messner

USC Associates Awards: The USC Associates Awards are the highest honors the university faculty bestows upon its members for distinguished intellectual and artistic achievements and for outstanding teaching, both in and out of the classroom.

Creativity in Research and Scholarship

  • Michele D. Kipke
  • Steven J. Ross

Excellence in Teaching

  • Tien M. H. Ng
  • Karen Sternheimer

Artistic Expression

  • Howard A. Rodman
  • Ewa Wojciak


Students honored at USC Academic Honors Convocation

Class of 2020 valedictorian and salutatorians: At USC, it is the custom to name one student to serve as the university valedictorian and one or more students to serve as university salutatorian. The USC selection process recognizes the very highest levels of academic achievement, but it is also more holistic and takes into consideration service and leadership as well.

  • Valedictorian: Isabella S. Hauptma
  • Salutatorians: Thomas J. Kim, Gavin Kress

University Trustees Award: Awarded to the graduating students who have attained the highest scholarship average of all undergraduate men at the university.

  • Nihar Agrawal
  • Neelesh Bagrodia
  • Rae Lan
  • Michael J. Wong
  • Jingyun Yang

Emma Josephine Bradley Bovard Award: Awarded to the graduating students who have attained the highest scholarship average of all undergraduate women at the university.

  • Savannah Benz
  • Rose Bueno
  • Danielle Collins
  • Isabella S. Hauptman
  • Sarah E. Leitner

USC Provost’s Award: Awarded to the graduating students who have attained the highest scholarship average of all undergraduate transfer students at the university.

  • Annelisse Cuellar-Montes
  • Honor Hayball
  • Mami Horikawa
  • Aris Mangasarian
  • Danielle Morales
  • Zhonghao Shi
  • Adrien Verus
  • Elizabeth Winnicki

Phi Kappa Phi Student Recognition Award: Founded in 1897, Phi Kappa Phi is the oldest interdisciplinary honor society at USC. It recognizes scholarship and awards prizes annually to graduate and undergraduate students for creative and scholarly achievements.

  • Nikki Darling
  • Sophie Hammond
  • Xiaochen Li
  • Danielle Takahasi

Phi Beta Kappa Undergraduate Awards: Devoted to liberal learning in arts and sciences, Phi Beta Kappa, founded in 1776, presents two undergraduate awards to honor creativity, scholarship and leadership in faculty-student community relations.

  • Jane Clark
  • Isaiah Smith

Rockwell Dennis Hunt Award: Awarded to an alumna or alumnus of USC who is pursuing a graduate or professional degree at the university and who is most representative of the Trojan Family’s traditions and values.

  • Mackenzie D. Postel

University Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award: Awarded to three graduate teaching assistants – from diverse areas such as the natural sciences and engineering, the social sciences, and the humanities and arts – who have exhibited consistent excellence in the classroom and thus symbolize the university’s dedication to the education of scholar-teachers.

  • Nina C. Christie
  • Zhanerke Temirgaliyeva
  • David Velasquez

Harry S. Truman Scholarship: Awarded to juniors who have outstanding leadership potential, plan to pursue careers in public service and wish to attend graduate school in the U.S. or abroad to prepare for their careers.

  • Kayla M. Soren

Schwarzman Scholarship: Designed to prepare young leaders to serve as a bridge between China and the rest of the world.

  • Songzhi Huang
  • Christopher Carpenter
  • Gabrielle B. Roberts

American Association of University Women Fellowship: Supports female  scholars who are completing dissertations, planning research leave from accredited institutions or preparing research for publication.

  • Conscience Princesse Bwiza

Mellon/American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship: Offers promising graduate students a year of funding so that they can focus their attention on completing projects that form the foundations of their scholarly careers.

  • Sarah E. K. Fong

The USC Academic Honors Convocation is traditionally held in April and recognizes faculty and student scholars for the academic year that is coming to a close. This year’s event, postponed until Oct. 22 due to the pandemic, is for the academic year of 2019-2020.

— David Medzerian