C. L. Max Nikias and Niki C. Nikias with Erna and Andrew Viterbi at the 10th anniversary of the Viterbis’ engineering school naming gift. Photo by Steve Cohn.

Every day, Niki and I feel tremendous gratitude for the magnificent support of the Trojan Family. The university’s alumni and friends do so much to advance our community’s work and to ensure that it benefits society in meaningful ways. At the fore of this exceptionally dedicated group I must include our venerable trustees.

While they contribute their time and energy, they also stand among USC’s most ardent benefactors. As we move past the halfway point for The Campaign for USC—exceeding $3.7 billion, or 63 percent of our $6 billion goal—our trustees continue to step forward with transformational gifts, ones that are spectacular in both scope and size. So far, our trustees’ collective contributions to our campaign total nearly $1 billion.

Kathleen Leavey McCarthy and her family’s foundation committed the first major gift in support of our new USC Village. This $30 million gift will name the Leavey Foundation Honors Hall, which will house up to 600 of our most academically ambitious students. Mrs. McCarthy has long shown singular dedication to our undergraduates, a dedication that is surely rooted in fond recollections of her own experiences at USC. In 1954, she was our homecoming queen!

Another trustee, Frank Fertitta, and his wife, Jill, provided the gift to establish Fertitta Hall, a new home for USC Marshall School of Business undergraduate students. This will be a technology-rich center for young entrepreneurs, one that nourishes creative collaborations and professional connections while maintaining cutting-edge learning tools. Fretitta Hall will sit prominently at the university’s southeast gateway, and a quick drive to downtown, our city’s economic center.

Ronnie and Barbara Chan have elected to support our top-ranked occupational science and occupational therapy program. Their $20 million gift—their third major gift to USC—honors Ronnie’s dear mother and will name the USC Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy. This is the first naming gift and the largest ever made to any occupational therapy program in the field’s history.

In June, we celebrated two other landmark trustee gifts, each totaling $15 million. Thomas Barrack Jr. and his family gave theirs to USC Marshall, significantly advancing the school’s global mission and supporting the renovation of a key building, to be renamed Barrack Hall. This will serve as a vibrant hub for students preparing to become international business leaders.

Also last summer, we received an equally generous gift from Andrew and Erna Viterbi—$10 million of which is directed to our USC Viterbi School, and $5 million of which is dedicated to the USC Shoah Foundation—The Institute for Visual History and Education. This gift enhances the Viterbis’ already-stellar legacy, and coincides with the 10th anniversary of their $52 million naming gift to our engineering school.

USC was founded on a philanthropic spirit. More than a century ago, Judge Robert Maclay Widney, the university’s chief architect and founder, donated $100,000—an extraordinary amount in that age—for the university’s first endowment fund, and later supervised the management of that fund. Fittingly, he also served as the first chairman of USC’s Board of Trustees, and in so doing began a sterling tradition at the university, one that marries leadership with charity, vision with philanthropy.

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