University of Southern California Receives $200 Million Donation

The University of Southern California will receive a $200 million gift, the largest in its history, from Dana and David Dornsife to expand support for undergraduate programs.

The donation will also fund research and Ph.D. programs in the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, the university in Los Angeles announced in a statement today. Nicole Malec, a USC spokeswoman, declined to say whether the donation is an outright gift or a pledge to be paid over time.

The College of Letters, Arts and Sciences on March 23 will be renamed for David Dornsife, 67, an alumnus, trustee and chairman of Herrick Corp., a Stockton, California-based closely held steel fabricator and contractor, and his wife Dana, 49. The gift is unrestricted and will allow undergraduates to do more research in the humanities with faculty members, said Howard Gillman, dean of the college.

“A naming gift for a college of arts and sciences reflects a deep understanding of the role of scholarly inquiry in the humanities and social sciences and sciences at a time when some of these core disciplines feel beleaguered in higher education,” Gillman said in an interview. “Their appreciation of the foundation of human progress and enlightenment deserves a lot of credit.”

USC, founded in 1880, has about 35,000 students and is the largest private, not-for-profit university on the U.S. West Coast. Among the students who attended USC are Neil Armstrong, the first person to walk on the moon, and John Wayne, the late actor.

In this academic year, USC received two $50 million gifts to fund cancer research and construct a journalism building, according to the university. George Lucas, the movie producer and director who graduated in 1966, donated $175 million in 2006.

To contact the reporter on this story: Janet Lorin in New York jlorin@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jonathan Kaufman at jkaufman17@bloomberg.net.

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