University of Southern California alumni Suzanne Dworak-Peck donated $60 million to the private university’s school of social work on Wednesday, one of the largest contributions in history to a school of its kind. With Dworak-Peck’s hefty gift came a change to the school’s name, which has now been dubbed the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work.
The donation came in the form of an endowment, which means the school isn’t suddenly flush with cash but rather, financially secure for generations of students to come, said Marilyn Flynn, dean of the social work school.
“It’s a perpetual anchor for the school in a way that no other kind of gift can secure,” said Flynn.
She said that the money will eventually be used to help bolster scholarship opportunities, and improve the overall student experience.
Dworak-Peck is a longtime social worker and has served as president of the National Association of Social Workers, but it is her financial investments that allowed her to donate such a substantial amount to USC, according to the school.
Dworak-Peck said in a statement that she hopes the endowment will help create greater understanding of the social work profession and its expansive impact.
“By educating and building professional social workers who are visionary game changers, we are investing in solutions to society’s significant problems, like homelessness and poverty,” she said.
USC’s is the largest social work school in the world, teaching one of every 20 master’s level social workers in the United States and enrolling 3,2000 students just this fall, according to USC. The school includes a specialized, graduate-level program that focuses on the mental health needs of military members and trains students on how to help veterans and service members transition from duty to civilian life.
USC President C. L. Max Nikias described Dworak-Peck a “visionary” who has used her leadership to “almost single-handedly” change how society sees social workers.
“In the trenches from the very start of her career, she has shown that her compassion and selflessness have no bounds,” said Nikias in a statement.
Staff reporter Hayley Fox can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @EPfox on Twitter for the latest in L.A. news.
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