Leo Buscaglia, the internationally known author and television lecturer often referred to as the “The Love Doctor” and “Dr. Hug,” always emphasized the importance of giving.
And although he died in 1998, the former professor of special education at the USC Rossier School of Education continues to give back to the university where he taught for 20 years.
The Leo F. Buscaglia Inner City Teaching Scholarship Fund assists students in the USC Rossier School’s Master of Arts in Teaching program. This year’s scholarship recipients, to be formally announced at a USC luncheon on Aug. 29, are Justin Shahbaz, Salome Abraham and Jonathan Jobe.
“The spirit and intent of the Buscaglia Scholarships underscores the Rossier School’s mission of excellence in urban education,” said Dean Karen Symms Gallagher. “Leo was legendary and touched the lives of many here at USC and the world. Perhaps his greatest legacy was to challenge, inspire and engage disadvantaged students to reach their fullest potential as human beings. We are proud to bestow this award to highly deserving and qualified ‘Buscaglia Scholars’ who will continue his legacy through our Trojan Family.”
Starting in 1969, Buscaglia taught a self-actualization course at USC, which he dubbed “Love 1A.” The course helped him earn the title of “Teacher of the Year” and led to Love � the first in a series of best sellers, including Personhood, Living, Loving and Learning, Loving Each Other and The Fall of Freddie the Leaf.
Buscaglia spoke of the need to make the teaching profession more attractive to young people, both financially and as a steady, fulfilling career, and to individualize teaching for each student.
A son of Italian immigrants, he was born in 1924 and raised in Los Angeles. His teachers mistook his poor language skills for mental retardation and placed him in a special-education class. Under the tutelage of a caring teacher, his English improved, and he learned a lesson in compassion that eventually led him into a career as a speech therapist in Los Angeles-area public schools.
At USC, Buscaglia earned a bachelor’s degree in English and speech (1950), a master’s in language and speech pathology (1954) and a Ph.D. in language and speech pathology (1963). He also earned three teaching credentials from the university.
Buscaglia served as supervisor of special education in Pasadena City Schools from 1960 to 1965. He then joined the USC School of Education faculty and taught special education and counseling at the university until 1984. After retiring from teaching, he served on the school’s board of councilors.
In addition to writing books, teaching and lecturing, Buscaglia wrote “Living and Loving,” a nationally syndicated newspaper column, and produced a number of popular programs for public television.