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Press Release


University of Southern California Receives Largest Single Gift in Its History

Dana and David Dornsife Give $200 Million to Name USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences


Los Angeles, Calif. (March 9, 2011)—The University of Southern California has received $200 million—the largest single gift in its history—from longtime supporters and international philanthropists Dana and David Dornsife. The gift provides unrestricted endowment support for the heart of the university, which will be known forever as the USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences after a community-wide celebration on March 23, 2011.

“This historic investment by Dana and David Dornsife in USC's humanities, social sciences and sciences—the largest naming gift in the history of higher education for a college of letters, arts and sciences—is both transformational and inspirational,” said President C. L. Max Nikias. “Even more remarkable is that this unqualified and concrete support comes during such a challenging time for many in higher education.”

An unrestricted endowment gift of this magnitude is rare in higher education as is the naming of a college of letters, arts and sciences.

“The Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences plays a vital role in the life of USC, and we wanted our support to be unrestricted in order to give the university lasting flexibility,” David Dornsife said. “We firmly believe that the College will lead the way in solving the major problems facing society and the world today.”

This unprecedented gift will expand core support for distinguished undergraduate programs, world-class scholarly and creative research, and outstanding Ph.D. programs in the College.

The Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences is the largest, oldest and most complex of all of the USC schools with an enrollment of approximately 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students, 784 faculty, 33 academic departments, and 31 research centers and institutes, and 634 staff members. The College awards approximately 1,800 degrees annually.

“The Dornsifes are an extraordinary couple, and their commitment to improving our world will be a permanent source of inspiration for our faculty, students, staff and alumni,” said Howard Gillman, dean of the Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. “Dana and David’s gift demonstrates their deep understanding of a basic truth—that all human progress and enlightenment rest on a firm foundation of outstanding scholarly inquiry across traditional and emerging fields within letters, arts, and sciences.”

In addition to naming the College, the university will also create a new “Dornsife Scholars Program” to recognize outstanding graduating seniors from the College who pursue scholarly inquiry and progress on pressing social challenges for the nation and the world. The new Dornsife Scholar designation joins the university’s current undergraduate recognition programs, including: Renaissance Scholars, Discovery Scholars, and Global Scholars.

"We trust and have complete confidence in the university's visionary leadership, stellar faculty, and outstanding students to not just make a difference, but to effect real and far-reaching change in the world," Dana Dornsife said.

David Dornsife, a USC trustee and 1965 alumnus, is chairman of the Herrick Corporation, the largest steel fabricator and contractor on the West Coast. Herrick’s projects include high rises, specialty projects, hospitals, airports, and hotels.

Dana Dornsife received her bachelor’s degree in business from Drexel University. She is the founder and president of the Lazarex Cancer Foundation and serves on the board of directors of Epeius Biotechnologies, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company developing genetic medicine for the treatment of cancer.

The Dornsifes are longtime supporters of the USC Brain and Creativity Institute and the internationally recognized neuroscience program, both housed in the College. Their philanthropy builds upon the legacy of giving to USC begun by David’s parents, Ester and Harold Dornsife.

Among the Dornsifes’ philanthropic endeavors are water-drilling in Africa, research associated with Alzheimer’s Disease, the Yosemite Conservancy, and support for those with end-stage cancer seeking medical breakthroughs through FDA clinical trials.

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Nicole M. Malec
University Communications
(213) 740.7896

Carl Marziali
Media Relations
(213) 740.2215