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Parents take the lead in new philanthropic circle

Teresa Laraby Teresa Lara
Niki C. Nikias and C. L. Max Nikais greet parents.
Photo: USC President C. L. Max Nikias and Niki C. Nikias greet arrivals Karl and Kathy Swaidan at the inaugural Parent Leadership Circle dinner during Trojan Family Weekend. (USC Photo/Steve Cohn)

This year, Trojan Family Weekend was the occasion for the inauguration of a new giving society — the USC Parent Leadership Circle, a philanthropic group comprised of parents of undergraduates who express a strong interest in the university’s long-term stability and growth.

The Parent Leadership Circle, with 200 parents committed to its goals, helps advance the university in virtually every area of academic development. Each participant has contributed $50,000 or more toward the $6 billion Campaign for the University of Southern California. USC parents within and outside of this circle have contributed $730 million to the campaign.

Gifts to the campaign help the university maintain the highest standards of academic excellence at USC — providing vital support for undergraduate scholarships, research and service-learning initiatives across the university.

At the leadership circle’s inaugural dinner held during Trojan Family Weekend, USC President C. L. Nikias and Niki C. Nikias welcomed the members and emphasized the important role their engagement adds to student development.

“Like all of you, my wife Niki and I are also Trojan parents,” Nikias said. “Parent engagement is instrumental in facilitating both a parent and undergraduate experience that heightens the USC student’s interdisciplinary and world context view.”

Parent Leadership Circle executive committee co-chairs, Kathy and Richard Leventhal, shared their experience as parents of two current USC students.

“What we have at USC is something unique,” Kathy Leventhal said. “There’s a depth and emotional connection for USC parents that goes way beyond the classroom and continues even after your kids graduate. You’re welcomed here with open arms and treated as valued members of the university community.”

Joined by senior administrators and academic deans, Al Checcio, senior vice president for University Advancement, thanked the Leventhals and other executive committee members for their hard work.

President Nikias concluded with remarks on the vital role the Parent Leadership Circle will play in the life of the university.

“At USC, parents have a special place in the Trojan Family. This new Parent Leadership Circle is central to the university’s mission: to continue to produce the agile and influential leaders our changing world urgently needs,” he said. “Together, we make the undergraduate experience at USC second to none — inside and outside of the classroom.”

For more information about the Parent Leadership Circle, contact Sarah Trudell-McCoy, executive director of the USC Parents Program of University Advancement, at (213) 821-3566.

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