Meet Trump’s biggest supporters: The USC Board of Trustees

They make decisions to benefit the students, yet, Trump’s plans do the exact opposite

As the months of Donald Trump’s questionable presidency go by, supporters of his seem to be less outspoken and more unsure about his abilities to preside. Nonetheless, some people are not afraid to show their continued support to President Trump, including members of USC’s own Board of Trustees.

They have the power to make decisions to benefit the students, yet, Trump’s plans do the exact opposite. Trump, as well as Secretary of Education Betsy Devos, have proposed to reshape student loan financing, which will force graduate students to make higher monthly payments for a longer period of time. They also plan to cut federal work-study funds by $487 million.

The ending of the DACA program also has a direct effect on USC students. President Nikias himself has said that he has met some of these “dreamers” and has expressed his concern for the undocumented students on our campus.

Even with all of these questionable policies, these members of the Board of Trustees still stand with Trump.

Thomas J. Barrack

Thomas J. Barrack is a USC alumnus and a donor who has been a trustee since 2012. He is the CEO of Colony Capital and has a net worth of $1 billion. According to President Nikias, Barrack is a “true Trojan."

A true Trojan and a long time Republican, he served as Deputy Undersecretary of the Department of the Interior under the Reagan administration. He openly supported Donald Trump in the 2016 election and was a major fundraiser during the campaign.

Trump even named him chairman of the inaugural address, that took place in January.

Miriam Adelson

Miriam Adelson is the wife of Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino mogul and founder/CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation. Miriam is a doctor and philanthropist and was elected to the board just last year. Sheldon is a GOP mega donor, donating $25 million to Donald Trump’s campaign in 2016, as well as another $5 million for the inauguration, making Sheldon the largest donor of the election cycle.

The day after the events of the Las Vegas shootings, Trump turned to “two of his most trusted supporters” – the Adelsons – for advice on how to deal with the aftermath of the tragedy. Trump also calls on the couple to discuss policy decisions.

Christopher Cox

Christopher Cox is an established lawyer, with a degree from Harvard Law School, serving as president of Morgan Lewis Consulting LLC, and as a partner of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP. He was elected as a trustee in 2011.

He was also the Senior Associate Counsel to the President under the Reagan administration, the Chairman of the SEC under George W. Bush, and served 17 years as a Republican in the House of Representatives.

Although there is no direct connection between Cox and Trump, he has been a long time supporter of the Republican party and is looking to run for office in California again. There may be no indication that Cox supports Trump, but there’s no doubt that he’ll continue to support his party and any legislation that the President coaxes his Republican Congress to enact.

Frank Fertitta

Frank Fertitta III is the CEO of Station Casinos, as well as an owner of Zuffa LLC, the company that formerly promoted the UFC. He was elected to the board in 2013.

Although he has not shown support for Trump verbally, he has financially. He was among a group of about 25 other billionaires that donated and helped raise $107 million for his inaugural address. Frank, himself, gave $207,000 for the cause.

Tamara Hughes Gustavson

Tamara Hughes Gustavson is the daughter of Bradley Wayne Hughes, the founder and chairman of Public Storage. Tamara is the largest shareholder in her father’s company, with an 11 percent share. She was first elected as a trustee in 2010, as her father is one of about 20 "life trustees" on the board. Both are both consistent GOP donors.

During the 2016 election, Bradley donated $449,000 to Trump’s campaign, while Tamara donated another $25,000. The Hughes have been Republicans for many years, as well as Trump supporters since the beginning of his campaign.

There are surely other Trustees who support Trump personally, considering that all of USC’s Trustees are rather wealthy and most own, manage, or are associates of large businesses. Many of those on the board also identify as Republican. Although this does not guarantee that they support the president, there is no doubt that at least a few of them agree with his policies.

Out of the 57 voting members on the Board of Trustees, I wouldn’t be surprised if at least 20 of them are, in one way or another, supporters of Trump.

University of Southern California Board of Trustees Trump USC