Logo: University of Southern California

USC Viterbi School Reaches $300 Million Fundraising Goal Ahead of Schedule

School naming donation one of more than 10,000 gifts in 7-year effort
Eric Mankin
May 19, 2008 — The USC Viterbi School of Engineering has passed the target $300 million mark of its fundraising initiative months before the campaign's scheduled close. A $52 million school naming donation from Qualcomm founder and alumnus Andrew J. Viterbi highlighted the success of the effort.
Yortsos, Sample, Nikias: commitment and leadership

“Seven years ago,” Dean Yannis Yortsos recently told a meeting of Viterbi School faculty and staff, “we set a very aggressive and lofty target for the fundraising initiative due to end in June.

“I am extremely pleased to tell you that as of the end of this March, our fundraising total stood at $300,955,609 in cash and pledges, having reached the target with three months to go.”

The campaign was begun in 2001 by then-dean C.L. Max Nikias, who subsequently became USC Provost in 2005. “We congratulate the Viterbi School for reaching this milestone so quickly,” said Nikias.  “It reflects the commitment of the school’s faculty and leadership, and it is a validation of the school’s great potential to shape new technological frontiers."

“Successful fund-raising requires keen assessment of the present and future,” said USC President Steven B. Sample, who is also a tenured faculty member of the Viterbi School. “Both Provost Nikias and Dean Yortsos have a talent for perceiving compelling academic opportunities and matching these with people who believe in the mission and the promise. For nearly two decades I’ve watched the Viterbi School go from strength to strength.  The drive and optimism I see at the school are simply exhilarating, and this campaign offers ample testimony to this upward momentum.” 

Yortsos said that two-thirds of the funds are going to the school’s endowment, which has consequently more than doubled in the seven-year period. “What is most satisfying,” he added, “is this same seven-year period has seen a sharp rise in the school’s ranking, faculty honors, student test scores and other indications of excellence. These gifts have had a direct, highly positive impact.”

Yortsos singled out for praise Christopher Stoy, chief executive officer of the Viterbi School’s department of external relations, who has overseen the fundraising effort for its entire duration.

“We are very fortunate to have received such a broad-based support in propelling the school to a whole new level of excellence, and providing a firm foundation for the future.  We received more than 10,000 gifts of all sizes from alumni, parents, friends, corporations and foundations, here and abroad, and all are important.  Our fundraising initiative has transformed our school in so many areas, including new faculty appointments, student fellowships, new facilities, and groundbreaking research initiatives.” 

Stoy pointed out that no fewer than seven alumni of the school, four of whom are USC Trustees, had made multimillion dollar naming donations to the campaign, including the centerpiece school naming gift. "This is a tribute both to their loyalty and to our institutional culture as a center of engineering," he said.

These landmark alumni campaign gifts include:
  • 2002: $10 million from USC Trustee Daniel J. Epstein ('62) to name the Daniel J. Epstein Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering
  • 2004: $52 million gift from USC Trustee Andrew J. Viterbi ('62), co-founder of Qualcomm, to name the Andrew and Erna School of Engineering
  • 2004: $22 million from USC Trustee Mark Stevens ('81, '84) of Silicon Valley venture capital firm Sequoia Capital, to create the USC Stevens Institute for Innovation.
  • 2005: $8 million from Ken Klein, ('82), CEO of device software developer Wind River, to establish the Klein Institute for Undergraduate Engineering Student Life.
  • 2005: $15 million from John Mork ('70), CEO of Energy Corporation of America, to name the Mork Family Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science.
  • 2006: $35 million from USC Trustee Ming Hsieh ('83,'84), CEO of Cogent Inc., to name the Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering.
  • 2007: $17 million from Sonny Astani ('78), chair of Astani Enterprises, to name the Sonny Astani Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
This list includes the donations of campaign co-chairs Daniel J. Epstein and Mark Stevens. At the time when the fundraising initiative, “Destination: The Future” began in 2001, the pair issued a statement noting that “this ambitious initiative is destined to succeed and will help secure a brilliant future for USC engineering.”

Both hailed the achievement of the funding goal.

“I am proud of what the School has accomplished,” said Epstein, when he heard that the $300 million mark had been passed. “This is a great day for USC and Engineering,” said Stevens.

 “The success of this effort will produce a profound effect on the school, the university, and our community,” said Yortsos. “It will enable to the Viterbi School to serve its students, the engineering and research community, the nation and the world. We owe a profound debt to the donors who have put their faith and trust in us and we will do our utmost to realize the vision that they believe in so strongly.”