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Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion

Our Commitment

The USC Thornton School of Music recognizes the powerful role music plays in elevating the human spirit and in uniting diverse languages, cultures and communities. While actively fostering intellectual and creative exploration, innovative approaches, and connections with the world, USC Thornton also recognizes that it is imperative at this time for musicians and scholars to acknowledge systemic racism and the historical exclusion of marginalized peoples in music and to do the work of reconciliation and repair that is required of us. Read More >>

Messages to the Thornton Community

March 19, 2021: Stop Asian Hate
We are heartbroken and horrified by the tragedy that occurred this week in Atlanta, specifically aimed at women and members of the Asian-American community. Read More >>

June 25, 2020: Message from Dean Cutietta
The crisis facing Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) in America has pierced our nation’s soul. Read More >>

June 1, 2020: Message from Dean Cutietta
Our hearts ache for our society after the murder of George Floyd, the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and the many others we have lost. Read More >>

Action Plans

In the spring of 2017, USC Thornton developed a five-year diversity, equity and inclusion plan and continued to mark progress in established priority areas. This year, in a series of Town Halls and listening sessions across the school, our faculty and students expressed bold new visions for how we can better embody these principles. With the collective visions of our faculty, students and school leadership, USC Thornton continues to develop new strategies and measure progress in key change areas such as curriculum, faculty recruitment and retention, student recruitment and retention, and the climate for BIPOC students at Thornton. Dean Robert Cutietta has tasked each division, department, and program within the school to commit to serious investigation of their own culture, curriculum and programs and establish individualized action plans. That work is ongoing. 

Voices Fund & Backstage Pass

There has been a call to diversify the faculty and increase the number of full-time faculty of color at Thornton. We have made great strides in our diversity efforts in hiring new faculty in the past years, but USC has instituted a university-wide hiring freeze for at least one year as it attempts to deal with the negative financial ramifications of the pandemic. Therefore, USC Thornton has launched The Voices Fund. Faculty from across the school have requested funding to bring voices of underrepresented, historically marginalized groups to their classes. A committee of faculty and students led by faculty member Ronald McCurdy reviews these requests to assure they are distributed across the Thornton School and meet the goals of bringing open conversations about music, inclusiveness, and the profession.

To share these events along with an amazing array of guests who visit Thornton classes each week, we launched a new online initiative this year, The Backstage Pass, an email newsletter of select online masterclasses, forums, lectures, wellness and community-focused events hosted live on Zoom and open to all USC Thornton students. This platform offers students across all programs privileged access to top artists, educators and music professionals, as well as keeping our community connected with enriching opportunities.

Illustration of African tribe dancing

From Tragedy to Triumph – Part II: “The Spirit of My Home” animation from USC student, Tavia Harris

From Tragedy to Triumph

From Tragedy to Triumph is an interactive student-led series about the African diaspora told through discussion with film, dance, and music. Organized by USC Thornton professor Ron McCurdy, each event of the seven-part series is produced in creative collaboration between student and faculty composers, dancers, filmmakers, musicians and writers from across the university. Read More >>

University Resources

  • USC Office of Equity and Diversity: A central resource for submitting reports of incidents involving assault, discrimination and harassment based on protected characteristics in which the respondent is a faculty or staff member.
  • USC Office of Professionalism and Ethics: A central resource for submitting incidence of protected and non-protected class complaints.
  • USC Title IX Office: Responds to complaints related to assault, discrimination and harassment based on protected characteristics in which the respondent is a student.
  • USC Race & Equity Center: Home to a dynamic research and organizational improvement center that works with professionals in educational institutions, corporations, and other contexts.

J.E.D.I. Committee

Established in 2017, USC Thornton’s Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Committee (J.E.D.I.) works to advance our school’s commitment to equity in our classrooms, concert halls and community. The following provides an overview of the work currently in progress at the school in the areas of equity and inclusion at Thornton.Current members of the committee are:

Andy Abad: Instructor, Popular Music
Daniel Allas: Student, DMA in Music Composition
Jeffrey Allen: Associate Professor of Practice, Popular Music
Lina Bahn: Associate Professor of Practice, Classical Music and Composition
Christian Chico: Departmental Coordinator, ARTL, MTAL and J.E.D.I.
Lucinda Carver: Vice Dean of Division of Classical Performance and Composition
Kenneth Foster: Director, Arts Leadership Program, Committee Founder
Michael Garcia: Chair, Music Industry Program
Justin Gilmore-Gresham: Student, BM in Jazz Trumpet Performance
Sean Holt: Vice Dean of Division of Contemporary Music
Beatriz Ilari: Chair, Music Teaching & Learning
Brittany Jimenez: Associate Director of Undergraduate Admission
Rebecca Lawrence: Student, MM in Double Bass Performance
Ron McCurdy: Assistant Dean and Professor of Music, Committee Chair
Cindy Montes: Human Resources Manager (ex officio)
Karen Parks: Associate Professor of Practice, Vocal Arts and Opera
Errol Rhoden: Student, BM in Tuba Performance
Justus Ross: Student, MM in Violin Performance
Rick Schmunk: Chair of Music Technology
Aaron Serfaty: Lecturer, Jazz Studies
Tram Sparks: Associate Professor of Practice, Choral and Sacred Music, Conducting
Vivian Stover: Student, BM in Vocal Arts
Mark Weiser: Director, Undergraduate Music Theory Program