At the grand opening ceremony of the USC Engemann Student Health Center on Jan. 29, USC Trustee Michele Dedeaux Engemann ’68 regaled the crowd with her undergraduate memories of the university’s old student health center, built in 1949.
One morning at 6 a.m., Engemann was summoned to the health center for a gamma globulin shot because a fellow cast member in a production of Mrs. Warren’s Profession had contracted hepatitis.
The health center “was so crowded, I had to get mine in the hallway, baring a little portion of my tushie to get that shot,” recounted Engemann, a USC School of Dramatic Arts graduate and daughter of the late, legendary Trojan baseball coach Rod Dedeaux. “And I vowed that someday this would be better. So now, it is.”
Thanks to Michele and Roger Engemann’s lead gift of $15 million, students, faculty, staff and community members now enjoy a new five-story, 101,000-square-foot health center, located on the University Park Campus at 1031 W. 34th St.
To express the university’s gratitude, USC President C. L. Max Nikias invoked the words of the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates: “Wherever the art of medicine is loved, there is also a love of humanity.”
Nikias called the Engemanns “two faithful philanthropists who have demonstrated their love of humanity and of this university through their extraordinary legacy of generosity and support.”
Prior to the health center donation, the Engemanns, who are also Trojan parents, gave $500,000 from their family foundation to establish the School of Dramatic Arts’ building fund, as well as $500,000 to finance the USC Baseball Hall of Fame at Dedeaux Field.
“By providing $15 million to help create this new health center, Michele and Roger Engemann have made a wise investment that will enhance the vitality of the entire university community,” said Nikias, who predicted that the health center would grow in importance as USC transitions into an increasingly residential university.
Vice President for Student Affairs Michael L. Jackson, who served as the grand opening master of ceremonies, praised the state-of-the-art health center, which houses multiple services, including the primary care clinic, the acute care clinic, Counseling Services, the Office for Wellness and Health Promotion, the faculty staff practice, the oral health clinic, physical therapy, occupational therapy, immunizations and the health insurance office.
“I am really proud to again celebrate another great accomplishment by the university, the Division of Student Affairs and our campus partners who played instrumental roles in the development of the Engemann Student Health Center,” he said.
Lawrence Neinstein — professor of pediatrics and medicine, senior associate dean of Student Affairs and executive director of the Engemann Student Health Center — gave a speech that was both heartfelt and humorous.
He acknowledged the new facility’s five-star Yelp rating and the 1,100 students who have already given the Engemann Student Health center thumbs up on Facebook. He called the new health center “a dream come true.”
“We will create a healthier Trojan community and help students complete their academic endeavors and go on to lead successful, happy and healthier lives,” Neinstein pledged. “With all the meaning I can muster — because this is an emotional moment for me — with all my heart and soul, thank you.”
Undergraduate Student Government President Michael Geragos and Graduate Student Government President Yael Adef presented the Engemanns with a framed stethoscope on behalf of USC’s students. The couple also received a framed copy of the grand opening invitation from Nikias and a piece of contemporary artwork from Jackson and Neinstein.
Other members of the Trojan Family who gathered to celebrate the grand opening included Dean of Religious Life Varun Soni, who offered an invocation; Elizabeth Garrett, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, and senior university administrators; trustees and their spouses; and deans of the academic schools.
The festivities concluded with a symbolic ribbon-cutting ceremony, a bright burst of cardinal and gold confetti, and a brassy performance by the USC Trojan Marching Band.
Michele Engemann warmly welcomed those in attendance to take a self-guided tour of the new facility — even if they weren’t sick.
“Please enjoy it, see it, experience it,” she said with true Trojan spirit. “And Fight On!”
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