Several generations of USC students had come and gone before the university set out to articulate its mission in a formal statement. A daunting task indeed, given an institution as complex as the University of Southern California – with 17 professional schools, a multifaceted College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, doctors and hospitals, clinical researchers, several research institutes, an art museum, 650 student organizations, 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students, and 200,000 living alumni throughout the globe, to say nothing of a legendary football team. At last, however, it was determined that USC’s overarching mission is “the development of human beings and society as a whole through the cultivation and enrichment of the human mind and spirit.”
What is striking about this mission is the alliance of the mind and spirit. Here artistic creation is as highly valued as intellectual exploration. Here the imaginative mind and the analytical mind are not antithetical. Here there is no dichotomy between inherited knowledge and original innovation.
Rendezvous with Light showcases the work of one of USC’s most illustrious writers and teachers, Carol Muske-Dukes, and one of its talented undergraduates, Robbie Kriences. Both have wrought poems and photographs with thoughtful intelligence and unique perspectives. This confluence of creative expression and personal impression represents the essence of USC’s mission: cultivating both the mind and the spirit. Published on the occasion of the 125th anniversary of USC’s founding in 1880, this book stands as a testament to what can happen in an environment intent on unleashing the intellect as well as the imagination.