Wallis Annenberg, vice president of the Annenberg Foundation, has given $11.5 million to USC.
Annenberg, who is a USC trustee, gave $5 million to support studies on topics affecting women and children in fields ranging from psychology and literature to education and economics.
She also gave $6 million to the Annenberg School for Communication to endow two graduate positions and create its first named faculty positions.
The remaining gifts will support USC’s Summer Seminars and the USC Community Mobil Dental van.
Top-tier graduate students pursuing interdisciplinary research on women and families – and threats to their well-being – may qualify for the Wallis Annenberg Fellowships in the humanities and social sciences.
Annenberg created the fellowships with the goal of attracting gifted scholars to an important but underserved field. The Wallis Annenberg Fellows will be selected based on their academic records and the relevance of their research into women and families.
“My hope is that the research will result in inspiring and transforming society at large by enabling women and their families to serve as full partners in tomorrow’s society,” said Annenberg.
Graduate students in the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences as well as doctoral students in the Rossier School of Education are eligible for the fellowship opportunities, which will also be promoted nationwide, said Joseph Aoun, dean of the college.
“We are confident that, in the decades ahead, an unbroken stream of Wallis Annenberg Fellows will advance scholarship on issues affecting women and families at USC and throughout the nation and the world,” Aoun said.
The holders of the Wallis Annenberg Chairs in Communication and Journalism will have cross-disciplinary appointments as well as expertise in one or more of the school’s strategic areas of excellence: communication in the public interest, the impact of new communication technologies, entertainment communication and culture, and the influence of globalization on society.
“Wallis is a life force whose own zest and energy bring excitement to everything she touches,” said Geoffrey Cowan, dean of the USC Annenberg School. “Over time, as we identify the holders of the Wallis Annenberg Chairs and the recipients of the Wallis Annenberg Fellowships, we will all begin to understand the true significance of Wallis’ gift.”
From donations to the Southern California Counseling Center to women’s sports, to the International Women’s Media Foundation’s Courage in Journalism awards, Annenberg has a long history of philanthropy.
She is a recipient of USC’s ROSE Award for service to education, the first Giving New Hope Award from the Children’s Burn Foundation, and the Getty House Restoration Foundation’s City of Angels Award, which celebrates those who have devoted themselves to the betterment of Los Angeles and its citizens. At the annual “Swim with Mike” swim-athon in 1998, she received USC’s Gerald and Betty Ford People Helping People Award for leadership in improving American society.
“Wallis’ dedication to helping others is an inspiration to us all,” said President Steven B. Sample. “Through her visionary efforts, she has given hundreds of people the opportunity to gain an education, to become leaders of their communities, and to achieve personal and professional success. It is with great pride that we count her as a member of the Trojan Family.”