Prem Natarajan (left) and Michael Keston (right). (Photo/Steve Cohn)
In a joyous celebration and dinner at the California Club, Prem Natarajan was installed as the inaugural Keston Executive Director of the USC Information Sciences Institute (ISI). The event was attended by faculty and staff from USC Viterbi and ISI and included USC Trustee and school namesake Andrew Viterbi and USC Provost Michael Quick.
He is currently chairman and CEO of the KFG Investment Co., a privately owned real estate company that has built and marketed approximately 30,000 residential units in 140 communities since he joined in 1970.
“My wife and I like to contribute to causes that are important in the world, but also to people that we would work with,” said Keston, who earned engineering degrees before moving into real estate. “More than a project in particular, what drew my interest toward ISI were the talented people that work there.”
The institute’s first philanthropic gift will support its mission of conducting groundbreaking research in the areas of information processing, computer and communications technologies. However, it will also be used to diversify the institute’s research portfolio.
“Michael and Linda Keston’s gift is visionary and inspiring,” said Yortsos. “Being the first of its kind to ISI, it is pioneering a path that will further propel ISI to the leading edge of thought leadership in information and computer science and technology.”
Along these lines, Natarajan wants to offer research residencies that would allow scientists to come to ISI for a year to develop new projects, with the successful ones evolving into permanent areas of investigative focus.
“The Keston gift instantly provides a prestigious platform and valuable resources for recruiting exciting new talent to ISI,” Natarajan said. “It ensures ISI’s continued vitality and success by enabling us to invest in new, high-risk ideas that can exert global impact.”
Keston said he and his wife are thrilled to support an institution as innovative as ISI.
“When Linda and I decided to engage, we were interested in partnering with an organization that was involved in unique work,” Keston said. “When I became aware of the technological advances that were taking place at ISI, the engineer in me wanted to be a part of what helps them occur. The institute is absolutely extraordinary. We feel good about our decision to support ISI, which will help make scientific discoveries a reality.”
The is a multiyear effort that seeks to raise $6 billion or more in private philanthropy to advance USC’s academic priorities and expand its positive impact on the community and world. Four years after its launch, the campaign has raised more than $4.6 billion.