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Sisters and Brother in Arms

The Nguyen clan gathers with some newer family members. Back row, left to right: Andrew Haduong, Quan Haduong (Yenchi’s husband), Yenchi Nguyen ‘81, PharmD ‘83, Tasha Nguyen ‘83, Linh (Nguyen) Bui ‘82 and Andrea Nguyen ‘90, MA ‘96. Front row: parents Tuyet Thi and Hoang Quoc Nguyen hold grandchildren Paulina and Nikita Haduong. Missing is Dan Nguyen PharmD ‘90.

The Nguyens fled their home country more than a quarter of a century ago and went on to forge a Trojan mini-dynasty.

“It was just like in the movies,” says Yenchi Nguyen ’81, PharmD ’83 of her family’s escape from Vietnam. One night in April 1975, her mother, Tuyet Thi, hid behind a jeep and, working by the light of a street lamp, typed out passports and visas for the family on a manual typewriter while Yenchi kept watch for military police. An undercover U.S. State Department worker hovered nearby, then stamped the documents, and within minutes the entire family was aboard a military airplane, whisked away to freedom in the dead of night with little cash and few possessions.

The eldest of five siblings and a self-proclaimed “geeky” teenager, Yenchi spoke no English when her family staked its roots in San Clemente, Calif., a town where Asians were scarce and the Nguyen clan was a curiosity. Yet she adjusted quickly, and in two years’ time she not only spoke fluent English but graduated from San Clemente high school as valedictorian. Her accomplishments garnered her a scholarship from USC, and six years later she graduated with a doctorate from the USC School of Pharmacy.

For many younger siblings, Yenchi’s achievements would have been a daunting act to follow, but the Nguyens enthusiastically embraced the Trojan path. All five siblings – Yenchi, Linh ’82, Tasha ’83, Daniel PharmD ’90 and Andrea ’90, MA ’96 – graduated from USC and went on to rewarding professional careers.

It was hardly a bump-free road to success for a family that suddenly abandoned its familiar lifestyle in a quest for liberty. Their father, Hoang Quoc, had been a colonel in the South Vietnamese army and had studied and taught philosophy in Vietnam. But in the U.S., he accepted whatever jobs were available to him, selling life insurance, teaching English as a Second Language at night school, cleaning houses and running a landscape company.

Tuyet Thi, meanwhile, put her French sewing skills to work and picked up jobs as a dressmaker. When she and Hoang Quoc learned about a local business that made bikinis, they turned their garage into a makeshift bikini factory, enlisting the help of the entire family in the evenings.

As a high school senior, Yenchi was offered scholarships from two local universities. But she had no way of knowing that other forces were in play. Herbert and Elinor Nootbaar, people she and her family had never met, had learned about her accomplishments through Robert Beals, a family friend who had sponsored the Nguyens when they arrived in the United States. The Nootbaars were so impressed with the Nguyens’ story that they contacted friend and former USC president Norman Topping to share the family’s tale.

Soon Beals gave the Nguyens exciting news. The USC director of admissions had sent the Nootbaars a letter stating that he wanted Yenchi to attend USC. Unsure of their next step, the Nguyens showed the letter to an acquaintance who was a USC grad.

“I still remember what he said,” recalls Hoang Quoc. “He said, ‘This is a very heavy letter.’” So Yenchi and her parents dropped in for an impromptu visit to USC’s admissions office. Following a brief tour and a little paperwork, Yenchi accepted her admission to the university.

Later, the Nguyens met the Nootbaars and formed a lasting friendship with the couple. “We owe the Nootbaars a lot for introducing Yenchi to USC,” says Hoang Quoc. “It led to all five of my children attending the university.”

The siblings did more than attend USC; they blossomed under the school’s tutelage.

Inspired by his sister’s success, Dan followed on her heels and entered the USC School of Pharmacy, driven also by his positive impression of the program.

“It turned out better, more well-rounded pharmacists than other schools I looked into,” he says. Dan currently works as a pharmacist for Albertson’s/Sav-on in Yuba City, Calif., while Yenchi owns and manages a pain clinic in Las Vegas, Nev.

The youngest Nguyen, Andrea, credits USC’s Thematic Option program for providing her with “a small, liberal arts university experience” that she could not have found elsewhere in Southern California. “Also by then, since I was number five, my father knew how to fill out all the financial aid forms!” She earned a master’s from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and is currently a writer and communications consultant living in Aptos, Calif.

Sisters Linh and Tasha also flourished at the university. Linh went on to the George Washington University School of Medicine and is now a physician specializing in radiology, while Tasha, a Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude USC graduate who earned her JD at Harvard Law school, currently practices business law at the Los Angeles office of Holland & Knight, an international law firm.

“My experience at USC rounded me out,” says Tasha. “It was a time to grow up and explore new things.” In 1997, she was named one of the 50 most powerful women in Los Angeles law by the Los Angeles Business Journal.

Though they credit USC for their career successes, all the Nguyen siblings agree their parents served as indispensible role models.

“My parents are ‘can do’ type of people,” says Tasha. “They didn’t have conversations with us about America being the land of opportunity … they just did it.”

– Laurel DiGangi

The Center of the University

Helene and Lou Galen: “USC has always been an important part of my life,” Lou says. “There’s just something about it.” London-born Helene quickly came to share his passion.

Two fervent USC football fans give $10 million to support the construction of a new campus events center.

Strengthening a link to USC and the Trojan athletics program that has become an integral part of their lives, Louis Galen LLB ’51 and his wife Helene have created a $10 million trust to support the construction of a new campus events center.

“I feel very strongly that the university must have an arena,” says Lou Galen, who as a student watched the Trojans play basketball in the Shrine Auditorium – on stage. “More than just a facility for games, it will also serve as a cultural center for concerts and other student events. Helene and I both feel that this is very much needed.”

“Lou and Helene have been tremendous supporters of our athletic department for a long time,” says senior associate athletic director Don Winston. “This gift is a great boost towards our goal of completing the funding for the events center. We are truly grateful.”

The gift marks the Galens’ second multimillion-dollar contribution to the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics. In 1997, the couple donated $1.25 million to establish the Louis J. and Helene Galen Athletic Center – a combined dining and social activities facility for student athletes and the campus at large.

Lou Galen’s love affair with USC began when he was a schoolboy fascinated by Trojan football. To this day, he admits that a great disappointment in his life was missing the chance to see USC great Irvine “Cotton” Warburton play in an early 1930s semi-pro football championship game at what was then known as the Victor McLaglen Field and Sports Center.

Another period of football deprivation came when Galen was called to serve in the U.S. Army during World War II. After ending his military career with the rank of first lieutenant and returning to Los Angeles in 1947, he made up for lost game time: He bought season tickets for UCLA as well as USC, and went to every game.

In between games, Galen found the time to co-found Lynwood Savings and Loan, now known as World Savings. He also went on to the USC Law School.

In 1972, Lou met Helene. A native of London, she had no prior allegiance to any American university.

“I didn’t even know what a Trojan was when I met Lou,” she recalls.

It didn’t take long for Helene to understand – and share – Lou’s affection for USC. The couple sealed their engagement in front of 3,000 people at a USC/Notre Dame football rally. On their wedding day, Galen presented his bride with a Trojan Marching Band helmet, which she wore at the reception. To top it all off, the band played “Fight On” for the couple’s first dance as husband and wife.

“USC has always been an important part of my life – there’s just something about it,” Lou Galen says. “We felt that if we could make an additional gift to the university, we should direct it where it would do the most good. And from our point of view, this is it. The university needs a campus events center.”

– Rizza Barnes

Choral Wreath

The “visionary” Grant Gershon ’85 directs the Los Angeles Master Chorale with an eye (and ear) towards the neoteric.

What do Plainchant and Bach have in common with Bobby McFerrin and John Adams? They’re part of what Grant Gershon ’85 calls “music in the key of new.” And they’ll all be on the program when Gershon and the Los Angeles Master Chorale take the stage at the historic opening of the Walt Disney Concert Hall in October.

“My generation grew up on rock ‘n’ roll and all sorts of different music, so we have a broad horizon about what music is and what it can mean – less pretension, I guess you’d say, and more sense of community,” says Gershon, who begins his third season as the chorale’s music director.

“This is an amazing time in Los Angeles,” he adds.

Gershon and the LAMC will help inaugurate the long-awaited Disney Hall with an a cappella performance at the gala grand opening. The 40-year-old LAMC – unique in having its own subscription series – is the nation’s top-ranked chorus in terms of size, budget and number of concerts. The concert hall – designed by Frank Gehry ’54 – is remarkable for its sculpted, stainless-steel wings and acoustically refined hardwood interior. It is fearless in its design, and, in this respect, the chorale’s new home echoes Gershon’s own musical philosophy. “I like to create situations where singers can take risks, push the envelope, and reach their potential,” he says. “That’s the gift a conductor can bring.”

Gershon’s path to the podium has been circuitous, if not flat-out paradoxical. “Conducting was never on my radar screen in school, where many of us had fairly anti-authoritarian instincts,” he laughs. But once he tried it, Gershon was hooked.

After graduating from USC with a degree in piano performance, Gershon became pianist, harpsichordist and vocal coach to the fledgling Los Angeles Opera. Two years later he was its assistant conductor.

A summer spent at the Aspen Music School studying conducting led to Gershon’s appointment as assistant conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Projects with the Aspen Music Festival, New York City Ballet and the Vienna, Edinburgh and Helsinki festivals followed. In July 2001, Gershon – a native of Alhambra, Calif. – brought his experience home. In his first two seasons with the Master Chorale, he has been called “visionary”; his work, “sonically exhilarating.”

Critics have placed Gershon – together with Los Angeles Philharmonic music director Esa-Pekka Salonen and Los Angeles Opera principal conductor Kent Nagano – in a triumvirate poised to bring Los Angeles to center stage in the international music scene.

“Heady company,” Gershon says.

– Carolyn S. Ellis

Quiet on the Set!

For Constance Van Wyck, the story began in 1934, on a long train journey from Los Angeles to see the Chicago World’s Fair. At a stop, Van Wyck’s mother gave her a dollar to buy an armload of screen magazines – magazines that Van Wyck’s journalist mother had written for and that often featured stories about her actor father.

Van Wyck devoured the magazines. Then she carefully clipped and filed them as she has through the nearly 70 years since.

The Constance McCormick Collection, which includes information on more than 1,000 screen personalities, now fills two long rows of file cabinets in the stacks of USC’s Doheny Memorial Library. Van Wyck (who has since remarried) donated the already sizable collection to the university on her 40th birthday, Nov. 2, 1966. It has grown to many thousands of items offering film students and scholars a unique window into film and 20th-century American popular culture.

“Connie’s scrapbooks feature almost every article done about individual actors and actresses from the 1930s to the present time,” says cinema-television head librarian Stephen L. Hanson.

Van Wyck’s fascination with the material may be chromosomal. Her father was Lucien Littlefield, a character actor whose career began in 1913. Her mother Constance Palmer, a reporter for a Philadelphia newspaper, traveled to Los Angeles while she was still in her early 20s to interview Rudolf Valentino and met Littlefield on the set of The Sheik.

Van Wyck and her husband William recently pledged $10,000 to the university, part of which will be used for new display cases to house the still-expanding collection. The balance will fund a continuing lecture series on the material.

– Eric Mankin

Recognition Is the Best Medicine

At this year’s commencement ceremony, Joseph Medicine Crow MA ’39, the first Crow Indian to receive a postgraduate degree, stepped up to receive an honorary doctorate. President Steven B. Sample then read aloud a statement prepared by the 90-year-old Crow historian. “In my grandfather’s time, he would put on his war bonnet and go into the battlefield in search of brave and honorable deeds,” Crow wrote. “Two days ago I left my reservation, wearing my war bonnet, in search of honorable deeds. Mission is now accomplished. I now put aside my bonnet of eagle feathers and put on my hood and cap. Now I shall go back to the Indian country and other places representing the prestigious and world-renowned University of Southern California.”

Oh, the Humanitarians

The 18th Annual Los Angeles Humanitarian Awards in May honored two USC alumni for their compassion and dedication to helping others. USC honorary trustee Katherine B. Loker ’40 received the Los Angeles Humanitarian of the Year Award, and USC clinical professor of medicine Kendra Fleagle Gorlitsky ’86 was recognized as Physician Humanitarian of the Year. Loker is a prominent philanthropic supporter of higher education, medical care for the underserved, scientific research and the arts; Gorlitsky teaches physical diagnosis and serves as preceptor for ambulatory care at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and also works at the Clinica Oscar Romero, a nonprofit facility providing medical and dental visits to children and adults. Above, Loker (middle, left) and Gorlitsky are pictured with former honorees Rick J. Caruso ’80 (left) and Robert G. Splawn.

Commander, Astronaut, Poet

Charles Bolden Jr. MS ‘77, below with USC President Steven B. Sample, received the Asa V. Call Achievement Award, the USC Alumni Association’s highest honor, at the 70th annual Alumni Awards celebration held in March. The award “recognizes alumni who have demonstrated exceptional commitment to the university and community by giving generously of their time, energy and leadership.” Bolden, a former military commander and Space Shuttle pilot, accepted the honor “on behalf of the young men and women of our armed forces … and those brave souls who venture from this planet Earth, in pursuit of answers to questions yet unasked.”

The Art of the Party

Springtime, and the living was easy. The USC School of Fine Arts held a spring garden party at the home of USC trustee Edward P. Roski Jr. ‘62 and Gayle Roski in May. In addition to generating $26,000 in funds to provide need-based as well as talent-based scholarships for incoming freshmen to the school, garden party guests took home their own handmade monotypes created at the party on portable printing presses. Enjoying the event with host Ed Roski (left) are Faith Porter ’64, MFA ’66 and Jim Porter ’66.

USCMAAA surpasses goal

At the annual USC Mexican American Alumni Association Scholarship Dinner, held in Los Angeles in February, members, guests and university students welcomed an unexpected surprise: the announcement that more than $2 million had been raised to date for the USCMAAA Endowment Fund, well ahead of the campaign’s three-year, $3 million fund-raising goal. The endowment fund provides scholarships for post-graduate Latino students attending USC. Pictured at the gala dinner at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel are (left to right) Karime Sanchez Bradvica, chair of the USCMAAA Endowment Fund Campaign; Michelle Salazar-Cornman, a second-year student at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and USCMAAA Endowment Fund scholarship recipient; and USC vice president for student affairs Michael Jackson.

A half-century of loyalty

Carl M. Franklin, vice president and professor of law emeritus at USC, was honored at a luncheon in February for 50 years of employment at the university. He and his late wife, Carolyn, raised more that $150 million in private donations for the school and have donated nearly $4 million to USC and USC Law School. In 1996, the Franklins were presented with the Presidential Medallion, the university’s highest honor. Here, Franklin, left, accepts a donation to the USC Law School made in his honor by his former law student, David Warner JD ’63.

New University Digs
USC broke quite a bit of new ground this spring, commencing construction on three new landmark educational facilities.

Ronald Tutor Hall

USC faculty and friends gathered on an early May day to witness the groundbreaking for the USC School of Engineering’s new Ronald Tutor Hall. The facility will provide 60,000 square feet of classrooms and laboratories for the engineering school, plus 24,000 square feet to house the school’s Integrated Media Systems Center. Tutor, a 1963 graduate and a USC trustee, donated $10 million for the structure. Digging in, from left to right, are Tutor, USC president Steven B. Sample, engineering dean C. L. Max Nikias and Dwight J. “Jim” Baum II, whose family donated $2.5 million to the project.

Harlyne Norris Tower

To the strains of the USC Trojan Marching Band, dozens of white doves took flight to celebrate the groundbreaking for the Harlyne J. Norris Cancer Research Tower at the USC/Norris Cancer Center. The new building, a 190,000-square-foot structure that will be solely dedicated to cancer research, was funded in large part through a $15 million grant from the Kenneth T. & Eileen L. Norris Foundation. The building is named for the head of the Norris Foundation, Harlyne Norris, widow of former USC trustee Kenneth T. Norris Jr. Harlyne Norris is a trustee of the university and also serves on the board of the USC/Norris Cancer Hospital. Here, Norris stands with USC president Steven B. Sample at the June celebration.

Molecular Bio Building

In April, construction began on the new $50 million Molecular and Computational Biology building. The state-of-the-art, 100,000-square-foot facility, set for completion in 2005, will be dedicated to interdisciplinary research at the forefront of biological sciences. Wielding shovels at the groundbreaking ceremony, attended by nearly 300 people, are, from left, USC College Board of Councilors members Jana Waring Greer and Robert Erburu, USC president Steven B. Sample and USC College dean Joseph Aoun.

Alumni Clubs

Keep the Connection, Wherever You Are!

Belying the myth that all good things must come to an end, the USC Alumni Association’s network of more than 120 alumni organizations is helping alumni all around the world keep the Trojan experience alive long after graduation. From San Francisco to Shanghai, USC alumni clubs bring fellow Trojans together to experience the social and intellectual stimulation only USC can provide. Get involved with your local USC alumni club and enjoy a diverse array of activities – including faculty presentations, cultural events, career-networking forums, sporting and social events, and more-that will recharge your Trojan spirit and keep your USC connection alive.

To find a club near you, visit and click on your region. Membership is free, so sign up to receive invitations to USC events in your area.

Community Service from A to Z

At the USC Club of Southern Arizona’s annual literacy fair this spring, club members donated more than 200 free books to first-graders at Blenman Elementary School in Tucson. In addition to the book drive, the club sponsored an essay contest, “Why I love to read,” to encourage literacy among disadvantaged students. Below, first grade teacher Mr. Dearmore (left) and the USC Club of Southern Arizona literacy fair coordinator Len Spitzer ’69, MS ’77, help students select their free books.

South Bay Sluggers

The first annual USC Los Angeles alumni club coed softball tournament culminated in a tight contest between the South Bay and West Los Angeles teams. Coming together for 12 games over 14 weeks were the alumni clubs of Downtown Los Angeles/Hollywood, San Fernando Valley, San Gabriel Valley, South Bay and West Los Angeles. The victorious members of the South Bay team (below) beam with pride after winning the championship game, 11-9.

A Little More Conversation

More than 80 Trojans in Las Vegas, Nev., gathered at the MGM Grand for a dynamic presentation on “Exceptional Service – How to Deliver and Manage It,” given by USC Marshall School of Business professors Richard Chase and Larry Greiner. Sponsored jointly by the USC Marshall School of Business and the USC Alumni Association, the April event included a reception hosted by J. Terrance Lanni ’65, MBA ’67, chairman and CEO of MGM/ Mirage. Pictured, left to right, are USC Alumni Club of Las Vegas president Shannon Walley ’98, Greiner, Chase and Cristen Walley Lebsack ’94.

Miami Maestro

USC alumni and friends gathered at the 15th Anniversary Celebration Concert by the New World Symphony at Lincoln Theatre in Miami, Fla., in April. Members of the USC Alumni Club of South Florida enjoyed a pre-concert reception with Michael Tilson Thomas ’67, MM ’76, founder and artistic director of the NWS and music director of the San Francisco Symphony. Pictured here with Tilson Thomas (sitting at the piano) are members of the USC Alumni Club of South Florida.

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