Alumni Learn About New Vision for the Keck School at Homecoming Weekend

Attendees get to meet Dean Carolyn Meltzer for the first time

By Janice O’Leary

Dean Meltzar and President Carol Folt pictured with group of Keck School Alumni

Photo courtesy of USC


A sold-out crowd of more than 200 Keck School of Medicine of USC alumni came back to campus for Homecoming Weekend November 4 and 5. Eight classes—from the class of 1972, which celebrated 50 years since graduation, to the class of 2012—convened for continuing medical education talks, Health Sciences campus tours, private class reunion dinners, a pre-game picnic, and seats to watch the Trojans rout the University of California Bears.

This was the first fully in-person Homecoming Weekend held since 2019, and enthusiasm ran high as alumni reconnected with classmates and enjoyed their first opportunity to meet the Keck School’s new dean, Carolyn Meltzer, MD, whose talk was one of the highlights of the day.

Dean Meltzer spoke about USC’s optimism for the Keck School’s future, especially with regard to the new vision for clinical care, research, and medical education. She also spoke about her background as a radiologist and her excitement about joining the Keck School during such a time of acceleration. Dean Meltzer shared the school’s plan to double its biomedical research and rise from the number 28 medical school in the nation to the top 20.

Associate Dean of Admissions Raquel Arias, MD, who was also celebrating her 40th reunion, spoke about the importance of not just coming back, but giving back, especially in support of student scholarships. She told her fellow alumni her own story, as well as the reality for many new students who might feel forced to choose specialties they’re not passionate about to offset the burden student debt. To help allow more students from more diverse backgrounds attend the Keck School and follow their dreams, Dr. Arias announced her decision to give a substantial gift to the school.

A group of Keck School Alumni

Photo courtesy of USC

Then she had a little fun, doing mock interviews with four volunteers, who told the group where they could be found on a Friday during their medical school years, who their favorite teachers were, the scariest things they had to do during medical school, how many babies they delivered, and their favorite part about dissecting the brain. When asked about what most profoundly shaped them during their time at the school, the theme was clear: serving the underserved at Los Angeles County + USC Medical Center.

The panelists for the CME program included Adam Leventhal, MD, director of the USC Institute for Addiction Science, who brought colleagues up to date on novel nicotine products and their effects on patients’ health. Lynda Roman, MD, director of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology at the Keck School, spoke about new clinical developments for the treatment of cervical, endometrial, and ovarian cancers. Clinical Neurology Professor Christi Heck, MD, led physicians in learning more about the entire health picture for patients diagnosed with epilepsy. USC’s Chief Mental Health Officer Steven Siegel, MD, discussed the strategies he’s been studying to combat physician burnout.

During the campus tours, alumni were impressed by how much the campus had changed since their time in medical school. Back on the Pappas Quad they got their bearings and  remarked, “Oh I wish they had that when we were here” about some of the newer offerings.

They loved the chance to visit beloved professor Mikel Snow’s shiny new gross anatomy lab, taking pictures with him and telling him that his class had been their favorite.

On Saturday, 400 alumni and their families attended the Homecoming tailgate before watching quarterback Caleb Williams toss bullet after bullet, as the team marched down the field for an eventual win of 41 to 35.