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C. L. Max Nikias, PhD '81 & MS '80

Distinguished Alumni Award

By Barbara A. Byers

Release Date: March 20, 2012

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Max Nikias

C.L. Max Nikias is the 11th president of the University of Southern California and holder of the Robert C. Packard President's Chair and the Malcolm R. Currie Chair in Technology and the Humanities. He also chairs the USC Hospitals Governing Board.

Prior to becoming president Nikias served in a number of positions since arriving at the university in 1991. As president, his vision for USC is to attain undisputed, elite status as a global research university through recruiting transformative, world-class faculty; elevating the university's academic medical enterprise; expanding its international presence; further improving the breadth and quality of its world-class student body; and embarking on the largest fundraising campaign in the history of higher education.

He is recognized internationally for his pioneering research on digital signal processing, digital media systems and biomedicine. The Department of Defense has adopted a number of his innovations and patents in sonar, radar, and communication systems. He has authored more than 275 journal articles and conference papers, three textbooks and eight patents.

The Chronicle of Higher Education has called Nikias a "prodigious fundraiser." His first year as president was highlighted by seven transformative gifts to USC, which enabled the university to raise an unprecedented total of $1 billion in his first year.

Nikias also brought the nation's largest literary festival, the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, to USC, and a number new facilities have been, or are being, completed, including a major new student health center and a state-of-the-art athletics complex.

Among numerous other honors, Nikias has received the IEEE Simon Ramo Medal and the UB Alumni Association's Clifford C. Furnas Memorial Award.

He holds honorary doctorates from Hebrew Union College and the University of Cyprus. His wife, Niki C. Nikias, received a bachelor's degree in accounting from the Athens University of Economics and Business in Greece and a master's degree in business administration with a specialization in finance from UB. The couple has two daughters, both of whom are graduates of USC.