USC Price School of Public Policy

Elizabeth Garrett Named USC Provost

Elizabeth Garrett Named USC Provost

Elizabeth Garrett Elizabeth Garrett will be the second-ranking officer under President C. L. Max Nikias.
Photo by Derek Lazzaro

USC President C. L. Max Nikias announced the appointment of legal scholar and interim provost Elizabeth Garrett to the post of provost and senior vice president for academic affairs.

As the second-ranking officer under the president, and the chief academic officer of the university, Garrett will oversee all USC’s deans and vice provosts, as well as the CEO of the USC University Hospital and USC Norris Cancer Hospital. Also under her purview will be the divisions of student affairs, libraries, research advancement, information technology services, student religious life, and admissions and planning.

“Provost Garrett’s appointment is particularly critical at this juncture in USC’s history, as we all work to take the institution into the ranks of the undisputed elite universities,” Nikias said. “She comes to this role with tremendous experience and enthusiasm, as well as a profound knowledge of USC and its academic community.”

Before joining the faculty of USC in 2003, Garrett was a professor of law at the University of Chicago, where she also served as deputy dean for academic affairs. She has been a visiting professor at Harvard Law School, the University of Virginia Law School, Central European University in Budapest and the Interdisciplinary Center Law School in Israel.

Before entering the academy, she clerked for Justice Thurgood Marshall on the United States Supreme Court, and she served as legal counsel and legislative director for Sen. David L. Boren (D-Okla.). Garrett is a fellow of the American Law Institute, a fellow of the American Bar Foundation, a member of the Pacific Council on International Policy and a member of the editorial board of the Election Law Journal.

Garrett said she was gratified to be named to the post. “What defines USC, its faculty, students and staff is a continued energy to strive toward excellence. We are very proud of our academic accomplishments of the past two decades, and rightfully so. But there is no sense that we’re going to stop.

“When people hear of USC, I want them to think immediately of a vibrant and thriving community of scholars, artists and students who are engaged in creating new knowledge and producing creative and scholarly works that influence society.”

Garrett has served as interim provost and senior vice president since former provost Nikias was announced as USC’s 11th president. Prior to that, she served as USC vice provost for academic affairs and then vice president for academic planning and budget.

Nikias said that, during the past several years, Garrett “proved to be an exceptional leader, showing boundless energy in advancing the university’s initiatives and a remarkable gift for innovative thinking and charismatic leadership.”

About Elizabeth Garrett

Elizabeth Garrett is the Frances R. and John J. Duggan Professor of Law, Political Science and Public Policy at USC. Her primary faculty appointment is in the USC Gould School of Law, and she has joint appointments with USC College and the School of Policy, Planning, and Development, as well as a courtesy appointment with the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism.

Garrett also has served as co-director of the USC-Caltech Center for the Study of Law and Politics. She was appointed in August 2009 to serve as one of five commissioners on the California Fair Political Practices Commission, the state’s independent political oversight agency. In 2005, President George W. Bush appointed her to the nine-member bipartisan Tax Reform Panel. She serves on the board of directors of the Initiative and Referendum Institute at USC, which joined USC in January 2004.

Garrett’s primary scholarly interests are legislative process, direct democracy, the federal budget and tax process, study of democratic institutions and statutory interpretation. She is the co-author of the fourth edition of the leading casebook on legislation and statutory interpretation, Cases and Materials on Legislation: Statutes and the Creation of Public Policy (West Publishing, 2007), and co-editor of Statutory Interpretation Stories (2010) and Fiscal Challenges: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Budget Policy (Cambridge University Press, 2008).

Garrett is the author of more than 50 articles, book chapters and essays analyzing budget policy, campaign finance laws, courts and political parties, various congressional procedures, judicial review of regulatory statutes, the initiative process and the California recall. She recently taught a course cross-listed in the USC Gould School of Law and the USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development on the law of the political process, and she leads a micro-seminar for USC’s incoming freshman focused on “hybrid democracy.”

Beth Garrett – In Her Own Words

“USC is a vibrant research university – I came here in 2003, and I have never ceased to be amazed by the energy and enthusiasm that permeates the entire campus.

“The provost, in my view, is responsible for creating an environment where faculty and students flourish with respect to their teaching, research, learning and creative activities.

“The faculty of USC are productive and engaged with their students and with society at large with respect to their research and creative work. The entire USC community is similarly engaged with the local, national and international communities.

“We have excellent students – both graduate and undergraduate, engaged and productive scholars, dedicated staff and financial strength to move forward toward even greater excellence.

“We have to retain the distinctiveness and excellence that characterizes our undergraduate experience, while also increasing the residential nature of the campus, ensuring that students have opportunities for hands-on research and other opportunities with our best faculty, and providing even more academically focused extracurricular activities that enhance our classroom experiences. “We have to continue to pursue academic excellence in our Ph.D. programs by investing in the best faculty, students and programs.

“We must ensure the continued influence of our flagship professional degrees and world-class arts programs.

“Universities are among the most venerable institutions in the world. Universities that still train great scholars and students existed long before the founding of this country and of our state. Universities are also vibrant institutions. Consider California – which is struggling right now with economic and governance challenges; one of the most influential and strongest institutions in the state is the University of Southern California, which is a resource for all Californians through our education, research and creative arts.

“This university will see great gains in academic excellence over the next five years under the leadership of President Nikias.

“Each discipline and each school has a different approach to training its Ph.D.s to excel in the academy or other research institutions. In Ph.D. education, one size does not fit all. The questions to ask as we increase academic excellence and rigor in these programs are: Do we have the very best programs in a number of key areas? Are we attracting the most intellectually engaged students? Where are we placing our recent Ph.D.s as they join the academy and other leading institutions where research is conducted? How do we ensure that they have benefited from rigorous and innovative training so that they succeed?

“I want to help expand the influence of USC, and to bring in more great faculty to join the exceptional faculty colleagues already here, to expand our research portfolio so that we improve life for people throughout the world … to have a presence that is an international presence … and to have students at all levels that build a foundation here at USC that allows them to go out into the world and become leaders in their own professions.”