USC Viterbi School of Engineering
USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences
Every successful person has had teachers, bosses, older friends and relatives, and others who positively influenced their lives. Such people are called mentors. I feel strongly that as beneficiaries of such help and guidance, we have a duty to mentor others.
My PhD adviser at Harvard told me that in his view, the most important task of the PhD adviser is to make sure that the student successfully completes the degree. I have taken that advice to heart. I also tell PhD students (my own and others) that the most important test of when a dissertation is finished is when the student thinks it is.
Every stage of academic life from pre-school to post-retirement involves new challenges. I strongly believe that those of us who have successfully negotiated such challenges have a duty to help members of a new generation facing them.
Quite early in my career, a very successful businessman I knew used his influence to enable me to get a key technical summer job, which, in retrospect, profoundly influenced my life. When I asked how I could possibly repay him, he said that someday I would be in a position to help others, and that would be his repayment. That is a debt I am proud to continue to service.