Dean Marilyn Flynn, left, USC Trustee Suzanne Dworak-Peck and C.L. Max Nikias celebrate the newly named USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. (Photo/Steven Cohn)

I’d like to begin with some wonderful news: The Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education recently released a comprehensive new ranking of top colleges and universities in the United States, and USC ranked 15th on their national list of public and private universities. Among California universities, only USC, Stanford and Caltech appear in the top 15, and no other California university appears in the top 25. Equally impressive: Among 150 colleges and universities in the Western United States, USC ranks third.

This represents USC’s highest placement ever among such rankings, and it is particularly notable because the ranking’s methodology was truly inclusive in scope. This is excellent news for our Trojan Family, and you—our dedicated alumni around the world—played a critical role, not only in this success, but in USC’s broader ascent in recent decades. For this, we are all deeply grateful.

Indeed, USC is so fortunate to have such an exceptionally passionate alumni network. You’re our greatest ambassadors and our most generous supporters. We see this same extraordinary passion in two-time alumna Suzanne Dworak-Peck. A pioneer in the field of social work — and a luminary in the world of philanthropy — she recently gave a historic $60 million gift to USC, one that has endowed and named the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work.

The school is already the largest school of social work in the world, and Mrs. Dworak-Peck’s gift will cement its standing among the discipline’s most innovative institutions, while bolstering its profoundly important work in our communities, including its renowned military social work program.

“Our school will always be a destination for learning, where future generations of students will feel that we value, and are invested in empowering, their goals and their creativity and their growth,” said Mrs. Dworak-Peck, who recently joined the USC Board of Trustees and who chairs the school’s board of councilors. “This is the feeling I took from USC and internalized throughout my career.”

We announced Mrs. Dworak-Peck’s gift — the largest to a school of its kind — to a cheering crowd of students, faculty and friends, and one thing was clear: Mrs. Dworak-Peck loves USC, and USC loves her right back. Throughout her distinguished career, she has lived a life of enormous purpose, and her vision for social work has touched countless people around the world. She has greatly influenced social work policy and raised the field’s profile immeasurably.

In reflecting on her professional success, Mrs. Dworak-Peck is quick to credit the character she developed at USC: the compass of ethics, values and discipline, as well as her knack for building professional relationships and connecting people. She has already built a singular legacy in social work, and with this gift, she significantly widens its scope, aligning her own compassionate vision with ours.

In many ways, our new partnership builds on a foundation that began during her days as a USC student, when she matured into a dynamic leader and empathic thinker. We are so proud to stand with her now, as we work in concert to better the lives of people everywhere.

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