Mark Stevens ’81, MS ’84 and his wife, Mary, are committed to the Giving Pledge, a promise among the world’s wealthiest people to commit more than half of their fortune to charitable causes that leave the world a better place.
“There are three things you can do with your wealth when you’ve been blessed to build fantastic wealth over your life,” Mark Stevens says. “You can give it to the governments through excessive taxes. That’s not a very efficient conduit for your wealth. You can give it to your kids. That’s not a good option, because that causes all kinds of unintended consequences. Then, you can give it to charity.”
The drive to give back started before the couple even met. Growing up in middle-class households, both sets of parents provided an example by regularly giving to charity despite modest means.
Today, still early in their philanthropy, the Stevenses have donated millions of dollars for scholarships and student activities to Mary Stevens’ alma mater, Santa Clara University, where she serves as a trustee. They also have contributed to several school foundations and supported cancer research at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation and neuroscience at Stanford. Environmental sciences and sustainability are also interests.
At USC, their generosity has endowed several programs and centers critical to the university mission. These are among them:
- The USC Mark and Mary Stevens Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute, which applies innovative imaging and information technology for the study of the brain—shedding light on diseases from Parkinson’s to Alzheimer’s
- The USC Stevens Center for Innovation, a resource that translates the discoveries of USC researchers into products for public benefit through licensing, collaboration and the promotion of innovation
- The Stevens Academic Center at the John McKay Center, where student-athletes can study, talk to academic advisers and attend programs
- The USC Caruso Catholic Center, a community for about 10,000 Catholic USC students, alumni and friends