C. L. Max Nikias

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C. L. Max Nikias on the USC campus

Chrysostomos Loizos "C. L. Max" Nikias (Greek: Χρυσόστομος Λοΐζος Νικίας; born September 30, 1952) became the University of Southern California's eleventh president in August 2010.[1] He holds the Robert C. Packard President's Chair and the Malcolm R. Currie Chair in Technology and the Humanities, and chairs the USC Health System Board. He has been at USC since 1991, as a professor, director of national research centers, dean, provost, and now president. He holds faculty appointments in both electrical engineering and the classics, and teaches an undergraduate course[2] on the culture of Athenian democracy.

Early life[edit]

Chrysostomos Loizos Nikias was born on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus.[3] There, he graduated with honors from the Famagusta Gymnasium, a school that emphasizes sciences, history, and Greco-Roman classics. He married his wife Niki in 1977,[4] and the couple have two daughters, Georgiana and Maria.[3] He received a degree in electrical and mechanical engineering from the National Technical University of Athens in 1977, and has an academic interest in Athenian drama and democracy.[5] Nikias earned a master's degree in 1980 and a Ph.D. in 1982 in electrical engineering at the State University of New York at Buffalo.[6] (His predecessor as USC president, Steven Sample, was likewise an electrical engineer, and served as president of SUNY-Buffalo from 1982 to 1991.)[7]


Faculty experience[edit]

Nikias was appointed to the faculty at the University of Connecticut from 1982 to 1985, and at Northeastern University from 1985 to 1991; he became a U.S. citizen in 1989.

He joined the USC faculty in 1991, the same year that Sample became the university's president. From 2001 to 2005, he was dean of USC's Viterbi School of Engineering, and from 2005 to 2010, he served as the university's provost. Since 2008, he has held the Malcolm R. Currie Chair in Technology and the Humanities. On March 11, 2010, he was chosen by a unanimous vote of the university's board of trustees to succeed Steven Sample as president.

He was founding director of two national research centers at USC: the NSF-funded Integrated Media Systems Center and the Department of Defense (DoD)-funded Center for Research on Applied Signal Processing. The DoD has adopted a number of his innovations and patents in sonar, radar, and communication systems.

Dean of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering (2001-2005)[edit]

From 2001 to 2005, Nikias served as dean of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, solidifying its position as a top-tier engineering school. He directed the expansion of the school's biomedical engineering enterprise and developed its distance-learning program into one of the largest in the country at that time. He oversaw the development of the school's Tutor Hall of Engineering. He also established key partnerships with corporations, among them Pratt & Whitney, Airbus, Boeing, Chevron, and Northrop Grumman, and led a fundraising campaign that brought in more than $250 million, capped by a $52 million school-naming gift from Andrew and Erna Viterbi.[8]

USC provost (2005-2010)[edit]

From June 2005 to August 2010, Nikias served as USC's provost and chief academic officer. He was instrumental in bringing USC trustee Steven Spielberg’s Shoah Foundation Institute and its vast video archive of 55,000 testimonies of Holocaust survivors to USC.[9] Nikias also established the university's Edward R. Roybal Institute on Aging, Stevens Center for Innovation, U.S.-China Institute,[10] and Levan Institute for Humanities and Ethics. He launched Visions and Voices, USC's campus-wide arts and humanities initiative, as well as a grant program to advance scholarship in the humanities and social sciences.[11] Nikias spearheaded the integration of the Keck School of Medicine of USC’s faculty practice plans, oversaw the transfer of University Hospital and USC Norris Cancer Hospital from Tenet Healthcare Corporation to the university, and recruited a new leadership team for USC's medical enterprise.

USC president (2010-present)[edit]

As president, Nikias has written frequently about a range of nationally significant topics, including the value of—and access to—higher education;[12][13] the future of online education;[14] the continued importance of the arts and humanities; the art of leadership through the classics; and the role of elite research universities, particularly as economic drivers.[15]

In 2011, Nikias announced a $6 billion fundraising campaign, which—at the time of its launch—was the largest in the history of higher education.[16] In six and a half years, USC’s campaign has already surpassed the $6 billion mark—18 months ahead of schedule—bringing to the university, on the average, $900 million per year. The fundraising campaign has been extended for five more years until 2021.[17] The Chronicle of Higher Education has called Nikias a "prodigious fundraiser.”[18]

Nikias brought the nation's largest literary festival, the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, to USC.[19] In addition, under his leadership, the university embarked on a major capital construction initiative that already includes Wallis Annenberg Hall for journalism, the USC Michelson Center for Convergent Bioscience, Dauterive Hall for social sciences, Fertitta Hall for business, the Kaufman International Dance Center, the McKay Center for athletics, Uytengsu Aquatics Center, the Engemann Student Health Center, a new Cinematic Arts building, and the University Club at Stoops, as well as the Soto Building, Currie Residential Hall,[20] and Norris Consultation Center on the Health Sciences Campus, and beautification projects for both of USC's campuses. In addition, construction has continued on the USC Village, a 1.3 million-square-foot residential and retail center.[21]

In recognition of his efforts to renew USC's athletic heritage, The New York Times selected Nikias as one of a small number of national figures "who make sports' little corner of the world a better place.”[22]


Over his two-decade career as an active scholar, Nikias gained acclaim for his research in the fields of digital signal processing and communications, digital media systems, and biomedicine. Some of his other research interests have included radar and sonar technologies.[23] He has consulted with corporations and the U.S. government. He is the author of more than 275 journal articles and conference papers, three textbooks, and eight patents.

Awards and honors[edit]

Nikias is a member of the National Academy of Engineering,[24] a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences,[25] a charter fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI),[26] an associate member of the Academy of Athens, and a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).[27] Among numerous other honors, he has received the IEEE Simon Ramo Medal,[28] an Academic Leadership Award from Carnegie Corporation of New York,[29] the Ellis Island Medal of Honor,[30] the Woodrow Wilson Center's Award for Public Service,[31] UNICEF's Spirit of Compassion Award,[32] as well as the State University of New York at Buffalo’s Distinguished Alumni Award and Clifford C. Furnas Memorial Award.[33] He also received honorary doctorates from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion;[34] his alma mater, the National Technical University of Athens;[35] the University of Cyprus;[36] University of Crete; and University of Piraeus. Nikias was awarded the Aristeia medal, the Republic of Cyprus' highest honor in the letters, arts, and sciences. In addition, he received the USC Black Alumni Association's Thomas Kilgore Service Award,[37] the Los Angeles Police Museum's Jack Webb Award,[38] and earned a commendation for cutting-edge research from the governor of California.[39]

Personal life[edit]

Nikias lived on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, an area southwest of Los Angeles, with his wife and two daughters. Following his inauguration as president of USC, he and his family moved to San Marino, located closer to both USC campuses.[40]


  • Nikias, Chrysostomos L and Min Shao. Signal processing with alpha-stable distributions and applications. New York: Wiley, c1995. xiii, 168 p. : ill. ; 25 cm. ISBN 0-471-10647-X
  • Nikias, Chrysostomos L. and Athina P. Petropulu. Higher-order spectra analysis : a nonlinear signal processing framework. Englewood Cliffs, N.J. : PTR Prentice Hall, c1993. xxii, 537 p. : ill. ; 25 cm. ISBN 0-13-678210-8


  1. ^ "C. L. Max Nikias Named 11th President of USC". USC News. 11 March 2010. Retrieved 20 September 2010. 
  2. ^ "USC president's aim in teaching a classics course is to 'light a fire' for humanities". 
  3. ^ a b "Profile of USC's next president". Los Angeles Times. 2010-03-12. Retrieved 21 July 2010. 
  4. ^ "The Climb of His Life". Trojan Family Magazine. 2003. Retrieved 23 April 2013. 
  5. ^ "C. L. Max Nikias Biography". usc.edu. Retrieved 23 April 2013. 
  6. ^ Nikias, Chrysostomos Loizos (1982). A new class of robust spectral estimation algorithms based on minimum covariance recursion error and their application in cardiac data analysis (Ph.D. thesis). State University of New York at Buffalo. Retrieved 2016-08-21. 
  7. ^ "About USC - President Emeritus". Retrieved 27 September 2013. 
  8. ^ "Cell phone pioneer endows Viterbi School of Engineering". viterbi.usc.edu. Retrieved 5 April 2012. 
  9. ^ "USC College to House Shoah Foundation". usc.edu. 2005-09-10. Retrieved 5 April 2012. 
  10. ^ Nikias announcement of the creation of the USC U.S.-China Institute; Nikias introductory remarks at inaugural USC U.S.-China Institute conference.
  11. ^ "Visions and Voices: The Arts and Humanities Initiative". usc.edu. Retrieved 20 September 2010. 
  12. ^ "What will the future of education look like?". World Economic Forum. 24 January 2015. Retrieved 18 June 2015. 
  13. ^ "Why elite universities should admit more community college grads". Washington Post. 23 October 2014. Retrieved 18 June 2015. 
  14. ^ "Online Education Revolution - Hype and Reality". usc.edu. 15 October 2013. Retrieved 18 June 2015. 
  15. ^ "All Roads Lead to Southern California". usc.edu. 21 March 2012. Retrieved 18 June 2015. 
  16. ^ "USC to pursue record-breaking donation total". Los Angeles Times. 28 August 2011. Retrieved 18 June 2015. 
  17. ^ "USC Is Raising Money So Fast, It Just Moved the Goalpost". Retrieved 2 May 2017. 
  18. ^ "As Its Popular President Retires, USC Eyes An Encore". The Chronicle of Higher Education. 2010-03-07. Retrieved 5 April 2012. 
  19. ^ "Times Festival of Books will move to USC". Los Angeles Times. 23 September 2010. Retrieved 18 June 2015. 
  20. ^ "Health Sciences Campus getting major revamp". 
  21. ^ "USC unveiling plans for $650-million housing, retail complex". Los Angeles Times. 15 September 2014. Retrieved 18 June 2015. 
  22. ^ "Moments to Savor from the Sports World". The New York Times. 2010-11-24. Retrieved 5 April 2012. 
  23. ^ "USC Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering: Chrysostomos L. Nikias". ee.usc.edu. Retrieved 20 September 2010. 
  24. ^ http://www.nae.edu/MembersSection/Directory20412/31047.aspx
  25. ^ "American Academy of Arts and Sciences Inducts 233rd Class of Members". American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 19 August 2015. 
  26. ^ http://www.academyofinventors.org/search-fellows.asp?Cursor=2&QueryItem=%&GO=N&qSort=%
  27. ^ http://membercentral.aaas.org/fellows
  28. ^ http://www.ieee.org/about/awards/bios/ramo_recipients.html
  29. ^ "USC President C. L. Max Nikias gets national award with $500,000 for campus". Los Angeles Times. 24 September 2015. 
  30. ^ http://www.neco.org/medal-of-honor/2016-medalists.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  31. ^ http://news.usc.edu/82758/usc-president-nikias-receives-woodrow-wilson-award-for-public-service/
  32. ^ UNICEF Ball http://www.unicefball.org/.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  33. ^ http://www.buffalo.edu/UBT/UBT-archives/volume26number3/alumni_news/achievementawards.html
  34. ^ http://huc.edu/news/article/2011/cl-max-nikias-phd-president-university-of-southern-california-brreceived-honorary-doctor-of-humane-letters-from-brhebrew-union-college-jewish-institute-of-religion
  35. ^ https://news.usc.edu/82238/nikiases-wrap-up-europe-trip-with-warm-reception-in-athens/
  36. ^ http://www.kios.ucy.ac.cy/about-us/kios-advisory-board/chrysostomos-l-max-nikias.html
  37. ^ http://viterbi.usc.edu/admission/professionalprograms/usc-forum-india/panelists/c-l-max-nikias.htm
  38. ^ http://mynewsla.com/education/2014/09/23/usc-president-honored-jack-webb-award/
  39. ^ http://www.ccst.us/ccstinfo/board/bios/nikias.php
  40. ^ "Many see a clean slate in Friday’s inauguration of USC president". Los Angeles Times. 14 October 2010. Retrieved 27 September 2013. 
Academic offices
Preceded by
Steven B. Sample
11th President of the University of Southern California
August 3, 2010-
Succeeded by