The longtime fixture of USC Price’s real estate degree programs is taking on new role to become senior advisor to the dean
By Greg Hardesty
Sonia Savoulian came to USC as a freshman in 1978 and never left.
Now, she’s leaving…kind of.
The longtime fixture of USC Sol Price School of Public Policy’s real estate degree programs—the Dollinger Master of Real Estate Development (MRED) and Bachelor of Science in Real Estate Development (BRED) —is stepping down as associate director, Programs in Real Estate. She will continue to work part-time as a senior advisor to Dean Dana Goldman.
It’s no surprise Savoulian won’t entirely be leaving her beloved Trojan Family at USC Price.
“Through the combination of the Trojan Family and the value of networking in real estate, I’ve created enduring relationships with our students and alumni,” Savoulian says fondly.
A consuming passion
Savoulian’s new gig, effective Jan. 1, 2023, is senior advisor for real estate and alumni relations.
She’s perfect for the job, having been with the MRED and BRED since their origins (1986 and 2015, respectively) and since joining what was then the School of Urban and Regional Planning as a student affairs assistant inSeptember 1984. Through her time at USC, she has helped shepherd some 3,000 students through programs in urban planning and real estate development.
“Sonia eats, drinks and sleeps these programs, and cares deeply about our students—even long after they’ve graduated,” says Richard Green, director and chair of the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate.
Savoulian was drawn to USC by the prowess of the football team of the late 1970s, crediting Ricky Bell and the cardinal and gold colors for why she enrolled. While initially an architecture major, she switched to political science, drawing upon a favorite high school class on government.
After graduating, and still not sure what to pursue, Savoulian got hired by the School of Urban and Regional Planning and never looked back.
Loves the students
In her new position, Savoulian will focus on fund-raising and alumni relations. As with many people at her stage of life, caring for her aging parents now is a priority. She will remain involved with the MRED and BRED programs, continuing to build ties between students and alumni. (More photos of Sonia’s time at USC here.)
“What I’ve really enjoyed is the student interaction,” she says. “I got to know students from before they applied, through the admissions process, while they were students, and I’ve stayed connected with many alumni.”
She’ll still have that connection, albeit through different channels. This fall, Savoulian taught for the first time and hopes to continue teaching a real estate careers class for undergraduates in the spring.
Her brief time as an architecture major, ironically, has had lasting influence.
When Price School’s home, Ralph and Goldy Lewis Hall, was built, Savoulian served as liaison to the architects and construction team. From 2006-2016, she was managing director of the Lusk Center for Real Estate. In June 2021, she was appointed a planning commissioner in the city of Signal Hill – bridging her backgrounds in real estate and political science.
Savoulian isn’t sure how long she’ll remain at USC.
“We all retire at some point,” she notes. “And I’m looking forward to that day – when it does really arrive.”