Logo: University of Southern California

Viterbi School Tops All Units in Pledges to Good Neighbors Campaign

This year’s 10 percent increase in contributions spoke to the heart, co-chairs say

September 08, 2008 — As a renowned expert on transportation safety, Professor Najmedin Meshkati for the last eight years has invested time and energy to help improve the safety of light rail crossings in L.A., with a particular concern for two intersections on the Exposition Light Rail route where thousands of children cross to get to school every day.
Najmedin Meshkati

One of those schools, Foshay Learning Center, in the family of USC Schools, is an institution he knows well:  he’s visited the campus many times, spent time with the principal and students, and learned first-hand of the impact that USC’s Good Neighbors Campaign (GNC) has had on the school.  

So as the co-chair of the 2007 campaign for the Viterbi School, he was able to speak with passion about the work funded with moneys contributed by faculty and staff. It is partially this conviction that he attributes to the success of this year’s campaign, which saw a 10 percent increase in donations over the previous year.

“I was able to speak from the heart about the role and impact of GNC at our meetings and events.  It was not just a theoretical thing,” said Meshkati, who also served as the 2006 co-chair.

For the second year in a row, Viterbi’s community topped the pledges from all other university units when reaching $98,188.69.  The participation rate of 34 percent also exceeded last year’s by three percentage points, Viterbi School Dean Yannis C. Yortsos wrote in an announcement to Viterbi School faculty and staff.

The campus-wide initiative, instituted in 1993 by USC President Steven B. Sample, also reached a milestone in 2007 – it surpassed the $1 million mark in a single year, with nearly 500 employees pledging 1 percent or more of their salaries.

The Good Neighbors Campaign funds dozens of community projects in the areas surrounding the USC campus, such as after-school tutoring in the arts, sciences, and sports.

At the Foshay Learning Center, one of the USC Family of Schools, students receive intense academic training such as SAT vocabulary development, writing and mathematics-building skills, and most of the classes are held at the USC campus.
Candace House

Candace House, director of Professional Programs at Viterbi and a 2007 co-chair of the campaign, said contributors realized that every little donation counts.

“We went to a lot of meetings and contacted many departments on campus,” she said. “We talked to everyone and told them that three dollars is something that can really help the campaign.  We supported a message (to increase) participation, it didn’t  matter how much. We really pushed hard and it really hit home for a lot of people.”

On his second year as campaign co-chair, Meshkati is proud to see the most recent results.

“The credit for that goes to our colleagues: staff, faculty and the dean at the larger Viterbi School,” he said. “I was only a catalyst; the elements for this process were already there.”