Time stamped at 1:11 a.m., a Facebook status update posted by USC student Stephen Bonkowski reads, “President Chrysostomos Loizos Max Nikias. Easily the best name of any University President in the country.” What Bonkowski was referring to was the naming of USC’s 11th university president incumbent, who was officially announced March 11, 2010.

Current President Steven B. Sample, who took office in 1991, will continue to lead USC for the next five months until his retirement on Aug. 2, 2010. The search for his replacement started in November 2009 with the Presidential Advisory Search Committee (comprised of trustees and senior faculty representatives in conjunction with R. William Funk & Associates) reviewing 75 serious candidates and interviewing only seven.

With that level of competition, USC Board Chairman Edward P. Roski Jr. states, “It is a testament to Max Nikias’ abilities that, from such an impressive group of educators he was unanimously recommended by the advisory committee. ... He is a remarkable and inspiring leader, a brilliant scholar and the best possible person to lead our university forward.”

President Sample echoes the praise: “I’m delighted to have a successor whose keen vision and energy will keep the university moving ahead at a rapid pace. USC will be in excellent hands with Max as president.”

What is beneficial is that the presidential incumbent comes from within the Trojan family, which will hopefully provide a smooth transition. In the past 19 years Nikias has served under several appointments at USC, currently as executive vice president and provost. He has worked tirelessly for the university, having launched several initiatives that benefit the full constituency of USC, including undergraduates, graduates, doctoral programs, faculty, staff and especially notable, university advancement.

Aside from securing $20 million per year for Ph.D. fellowships and establishing scholarship programs for undergraduates, Nikias established an Office of Research Advancement in Washington, D.C., that has helped bring more than $140 million in federal research funding to faculty. As a dean of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering from 2001 to 2005, Nikias made USC history as the only dean to bring in more than $200 million in that short amount of time.

Money matters aside, Nikias has also recruited top leadership to the Keck School of Medicine, as well as ensuring a “distinct academic environment” at USC. He spearheaded the arts and humanities initiative, Visions and Voices, a series of programming that brings speakers, arts and cultural events to campus.

Nikias is honored “to be given this opportunity by USC’s Board of Trustees to work toward realizing the dreams and aspirations of the Trojan Family ... and even to accelerating USC’s momentum based on opportunities that lie before us.”

What are some of these opportunities he mentions? Students are skeptical, yet hopeful.

Joel Garrison, a sophomore majoring in Political Science, comments, “I’m not really sure yet. I just got here so I was barely able to see how Sample did things, but it will be cool to be one of the firsts in the Nikias era. I’m looking forward to it. If it was a unanimous decision among the board, then he must be good.”

Garrison is only one of many students who will have to be flexible in adapting during the rest of their years at USC. With a new president, head football coach, campus center and campus life improvements, the future of USC is still uncertain, yet prospects look positive.

As Nikias quotes, “It has been said that the only sure way to predict the future is to invent it. And because USC’s faculty, students, alumni and staff comprise a global intellectual community of unsurpassed breadth, energy and dedication, I have exceeding confidence in USC’s own future.”

Maybe all this talk of the future of the university will be Facebook status update worthy, as Trojans wait with eager anticipation. President Chrysostomos L. Max Nikias, you’ve always been home at USC.