The Envelope, Please
Close to Tinseltown but better than the Academy Awards are the annual USC Alumni Awards. This year, four winners are affiliated with USC Dornsife.By Pamela J. Johnson
April 11, 2014
Call it the USC Oscars. The annual Alumni Awards gala is the premier event sponsored by the USC Alumni Association. Each year since 1932, the association has paid tribute to members of the Trojan Family with its highest honors.
This year, four winners are affiliated with USC Dornsife.
Associate Senior Vice President for Alumni Relations Patrick E. Auerbach, Ed.D. ’08, praised the USC Dornsife winners.
“They shine a brilliant light not only on the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, but also across a rich spectrum of university programs and disciplines,” he said.
The 81st Annual USC Alumni Awards ceremony will take place at 6 p.m., April 26, at the Westin Bonaventure in downtown Los Angeles. All proceeds from the event will support the USC Alumni Association’s programs and services.
And the Alumni Service awards go to:
Jana Waring Greer, who earned her bachelor’s in speech communications in 1973 and is chair of the USC Dornsife Board of Councilors. In those years, communications was under the auspices of USC Dornsife.
Greer is president and chief executive officer of the Individual and Group Retirement division of American International Group, Inc. (AIG). She has direct responsibility for AIG’s domestic retirement savings businesses, with assets of more than $200 billion under management. In 2005, in recognition of the Greers’ significant philanthropic contributions to USC Dornsife, the Jana and Randall Greer Molecular Biological Laboratory for Experimental Genomics at USC was co-named in their honor.
And Christine M. Ofiesh, who received her bachelor’s in history in 1974. Ofiesh is a Los Angeles native, dedicated USC volunteer and full-time philanthropist who supports her alma mater and many other greater Los Angeles-area organizations.
After graduating from USC Dornsife, Ofiesh began her career at Bank of America. She later worked in such fields as marketing, securities and insurance underwriting before retiring in 2006 to focus on philanthropic endeavors.
Ofiesh regularly contributes to various university initiatives and organizations; helps underwrite such annual events as the “Swim with Mike” scholarship fundraiser; and provides scholarship assistance to the USC Thornton School of Music, the Trojan Guild of Los Angeles and USC’s Asian Pacific, Lambda LGBT and Latino alumni associations.
The Alumni Merit awards go to:
Robert Osher, who earned his bachelor’s in cinema in 1981 and is a USC Dornsife Board of Councilors member. Osher is president of Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Digital Production division, comprising Animation, Imageworks, Interactive and Post Production Services. Under his leadership, Sony Pictures Animation has produced numerous hits, including Hotel Transylvania, The Smurfs and the Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.
From 2004 to 2009, Osher was the chief operating officer of the Columbia Pictures Motion Picture Group, where he oversaw such blockbusters as the Spider-Man and James Bond films. Prior to joining Columbia, he was co-president of production for Miramax Films.
Before Miramax, Osher was co-founder and executive vice president of the Turner Pictures Group, where he co-headed Turner Feature Animation and oversaw all business/financial operations for Turner Pictures, TNT Original Films and the Turner Entertainment Company. He had previously served as senior vice president in charge of Walt Disney Touchstone Pictures and Disney Feature Animation business and legal affairs.
He is chair of the Alumni Development Council at USC Cinematic Arts, and formerly sat on the Board of Governors for the USC Alumni Association.
And Gail Samuel, who earned her bachelor’s in psychology in 1988, bachelor’s in music in 1989 and master of business administration in 2002. Gail Samuel currently serves as chief operating officer (COO) of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association. At USC, she has served on the Board of Councilors for the USC Thornton School of Music since 2009.
Samuel’s tenure at the Los Angeles Philharmonic began 20 years ago when she joined the organization as orchestra manager. Over the course of her career, she rose through the ranks, holding a variety of critical positions.
Before becoming COO, she was philharmonic and production vice president and general manager, managing the orchestra as well as all concert production, touring and media activities. Prior to coming to the Philharmonic, she held positions with the Minnesota Orchestra, Yale University, Tanglewood Music Festival and the Young Musicians Foundation.