The Dean

Male standing in front of red brick wall

Message to IYA

Dear Academy Community,

I am deeply honored to be joining you as the second dean of USC Iovine and Young Academy. I am grateful to the Academy community and the USC administration for the confidence you have placed in me to lead the Academy and to continue the mission of advancing new models of integrative and inclusive learning for higher education and beyond.

The Academy is an extraordinary community. In recent days, I have had the pleasure of meeting students, faculty, and staff and I am impressed by the level of cross-disciplinary talent, intelligence, and creativity, and also the deep sense of community and belonging. It is clear that the Academy is a true community with rich diversity in background, experience, learning, and perspective. It also shares a common purpose of making a positive impact through solutions rooted in multi-dimensional understanding as well as empathy. 

One of the most pressing societal issues that the Academy is addressing is the need to diversify learning. Expanding and diversifying the definition of knowledge can expand the ways we learn what we learn. It can then expand who is included in the learning and eventually in a knowledge economy. The Academy is already one of the few places in the world to recognize with a prestigious degree the ability of people to integrate diverse types of knowledge. The Academy also values the combination of practice and theory-based learning and in the process elevates knowledge based on everyday experiences. 

The Academy is so ahead of the curve in expanding learning because of the bold vision of Jimmy Iovine and Andre “Dr. Dre” Young, the leadership of the founding dean Erica Muhl, and the support of President Folt and the USC administration. Leadership on the ground is provided by faculty and staff with significant experience in integrating arts, technology, business, and communication and by students who are eager to learn and work across sectors. I am grateful for the opportunity to join this thriving community and would like to acknowledge that our future work together will “stand on the shoulders of giants.” 

I have dedicated my whole educational career in advancing transdisciplinary learning paradigms. I have previously served as associate director of the Computer Music Center at Columbia University, founding director of the School of Arts, Media and Engineering at ASU, vice provost for Integrative Design, Arts and Technology at Carnegie Mellon University, and executive vice president and provost at Virginia Tech. Most recently, I spearheaded the launch of the Calhoun Discovery Program (CDP) that is focused on inclusive and adaptive, lifelong learning. My research focuses on systems design with a special emphasis on interactive neurorehabilitation, adaptive learning and cyber-human intelligence. 

I am excited to join the Academy with a sense of service and a willingness to learn. I look to our students and for faculty across USC for inspiration as we together discover next frontiers of integrative learning and collaborative work. Over the next few months, I look forward to getting to know you and hearing your thoughts and ideas. I can’t wait to see what we build together. 

Fight On!

Dean Thanassis Rikakis


Dean's Installation on October 28, 2021.


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