Twenty-seven years ago at a meeting at UC Berkeley, then USC Professor and Associate Dean of Research in the Engineering School C. L. Max Nikias met a transportation systems engineer, Randolph Hall. That meeting would lead to a long and fruitful collaboration to the great benefit of the University of Southern California.
At a recent gathering to celebrate Hall, who at the end of 2019 will step down as USC’s Vice President of Research, President Emeritus Nikias said, “For 15 years under Randy’s leadership, the university’s research has continued to expand…He has done an outstanding job…Thank you Randy, for all that you have done for USC.”
Under Hall’s leadership, USC’s research expenditures rose to $900 million in 2018 and will be higher still when the 2019 figures are compiled in January 2020. Hall also opened the USC Washington office.
“Our presence in the nation’s capital makes our faculty more competitive in regards to getting big national research interdisciplinary grants,” Nikias said.
While Nikias did not personally recruit Hall to come to USC, Hall said Nikias was a major factor in drawing him to the university. When Nikias became Dean of Engineering, he tapped Hall to become his associate dean for research.
At one time Hall was simultaneously the associate dean, chair of the Industrial and Systems Engineering Department and principal investigator and executive director for the Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorist Events (CREATE), while also teaching a class to 150 students.
How did he do it? “Well, you have to stay focused,” Hall said.
While Hall was chair, the department became USC’s first named academic department through a gift from Daniel Epstein. Hall also co-wrote (with Professor Detlof von Winterfeldt) the successful proposal for CREATE, which was USC’s first national research center from the Department of Homeland Security.
At the celebration, Nikias noted the presence of Life Trustee and former Chair of the USC Board of Trustees, Malcolm Currie and his wife Barbara.
“I am extremely proud to hold the Malcolm R. Currie Chair for Technology and the Humanities,” Nikias said. “I am also grateful because the chair provides some of the resources allowing me to travel, to meet new people and to establish new collaborations between them and USC.
“You are never certain where a collaboration will lead. Sometimes, as in the case with Randy, it leads to great things, for him, for me, and for USC.”