University of Southern California Receives $60 Million Donation

  • Social worker’s fortune from real estate, Hollywood consulting
  • Gift is earmarked for social work; goes into school endowment

A social worker who made money from real-estate investments and consultancy work to Hollywood gave $60 million to the University of Southern California.

Suzanne Dworak-Peck, who received both her undergraduate and masters’ degrees from the Los Angeles-based university, is the donor, USC said Wednesday in a statement. The school of social work will be renamed after Dworak-Peck. It’s the largest school of its kind in the world, according to USC.

Suzanne Dworak-Peck
Suzanne Dworak-Peck
Source: Suzanne Dworak-Peck

Dworak-Peck said in an interview that the gift comes from proceeds from real-estate investments and her consultancy business, NASW Communications Network Inc., which works with the cinema and television industries to accurately portray social workers in the media.

Helping Others

“My interest and successes in real estate came from my social work background and knowing how to approach things in different ways,” Dworak-Peck said, declining to be more specific about her investments. “I hope this gift will continue to give students a non-traditional social work education and help them develop and deliver solutions to help the world.”

The funds will go into the university’s $4.7 billion endowment but are earmarked for the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work and its programs, C. L. Max Nikias, president of USC, said in an interview. The gift, combined with Dworak-Peck’s profile as a leader in her field, ensures the social work school’s future, he said.

“There’s almost more value in her name attached to the school than the money she gave,” Nikias said.

The social work school educates one of every 20 social workers in the U.S. and has an alumni network of more than 15,000, according to the statement. USC said the school has led national policy discussions on issues such as homelessness, aging, veterans’ mental health issues and crisis response. Current enrollment is 3,200 students.

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