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New USC Center for Learning Support

by Sam Lopez
New USC Center for Learning Support
Andrew Kortschak, parents Walter and Marcia Kortschak and Sarah Kortschak with President-elect C. L. Max Nikias

USC parents Walter G. and Marcia B. Kortschak have made a historic gift commitment of $10 million to establish an endowment for the creation of the USC Kortschak Center for Learning and Creativity in Student Affairs at USC.

This gift is the largest received by Student Affairs in university history. The USC Kortschak Center will provide a broad array of innovative services to USC students with dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and other identified learning differences.

Under the direction of Edward Roth, current director of USC’s Disability Services and Programs, and the supervision of Patricia Tobey, associate dean of Student Affairs responsible for academic support services, the new center will offer enhanced academic support services such as individual learning strategy sessions, tutoring in academic disciplines and state-of-the-art assistive technologies.

Students at the center also will have access to outside professionals, including educational psychologists, occupational therapists, neuropsychologists within the university and other learning specialists.

“The USC Kortschak Center is the realization of the Kortschak family and USC’s shared commitment to ensuring that every creative mind has the opportunity to thrive and succeed, regardless of learning style,” said USC President-elect C. L. Max Nikias. “The center will position the university at the forefront of both support and research for students with learning differences.”

Said Marcia Kortschak: “What is most exciting to our family is to have the opportunity to partner with USC to support students who learn differently and to provide these students with the support necessary for them to reach their full academic and creative potential. It is our hope that the USC Kortschak Center will inspire other universities to examine and improve upon their own level of support, emphasizing students’ abilities rather than their disabilities.”

Walter and Marcia Kortschak are the parents of Andrew Kortschak, a second-year USC student, and Sarah Kortschak, who will be an incoming freshman at USC next year. The couple’s $10 million commitment is among the largest gifts to USC from non-alumni parents in the university’s history.

In the past, students with special learning needs have received assistance through USC’s Center for Academic Support and Disability and Services Programs. The center will not duplicate the current efforts of these groups, but rather expand on existing academic support services and focus on specific needs of students with learning differences.

“We saw a need for the establishment of a separate center to help take our programs and services to another level of excellence, and there’s no doubt that the USC Kortschak Center will help us achieve that. We are incredibly excited about this new partnership with the Kortschak family,” said Michael L. Jackson, USC vice president for Student Affairs.

The USC Kortschak Center will be based on a multidisciplinary approach to assisting students. Because of the number of experts in fields related to learning differences at USC, the center will emphasize partnerships and collaboration with faculty and staff across the university. The center will become a field site for researchers and graduate students, attracting the most accomplished disability scholars in the nation.

“We are excited to be partnering with a dedicated and outstanding group of educators to help further our family’s passion for supporting students who learn differently,” Walter Kortschak said. “To our knowledge, there is no other center in the nation with a multidisciplinary approach to enhancing learning and support strategies for this population of students.”

Walter Kortschak is a Silicon Valley venture capitalist and a managing member of WMAS Management Group in Menlo Park, Calif. He is a senior adviser and former managing partner of Summit Partners, a private equity and venture capital firm that invests in profitable growth companies.

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