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Engemanns have a healthy attitude

Engemanns and President Nikias at 2011 groundbreaking for the new health center
USC President C. L. Max Nikias, right, breaks ground on the Roger and Michele Dedeaux Engemann Student Health Center. (Photo/Nathan Carter)

Though philanthropist Roger and USC Trustee Michele Dedeaux Engemann ’68 have many connections to USC, one passion was stronger than any other. They wanted students to have a single place that met all their health needs. This inspired their $15 million donation to fund a new health center, which will open in 2013.

“This whole idea was just really thrilling to us,” said Michele Dedeaux Engemann, a USC School of Dramatic Arts graduate and daughter of the late, legendary Trojan baseball coach Rod Dedeaux. “We know if our kids are healthy, and they have a healthy place to go and be well and happy, they are going to do better in school and have a good experience at USC.”

The need for a bigger health facility was brought home when son Alex ’09, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree from the USC School of Cinematic Arts, told his parents how hard it was to be sick on campus because the health center was crowded, and the staff had to manage in a small space.

“I realized it was the same exact place and in the same exact, cramped facilities as when I was a student,” said Michele Engemann. “Roger and I really understood the need for a new facility. It wasn’t just about having a place to go when you are sick, but also having a place where you could learn about different health and wellness topics.”

As a result, the Engemanns decided to make the health center vision a reality. The five-story, 101,000-square-foot Roger and Michele Dedeaux Engemann Student Health Center will be located along Jefferson Boulevard next to Fluor Tower. The state-of-the-art facility will house 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, immunizations and the health insurance office.

Lawrence Neinstein, professor of pediatrics and medicine, executive director of the University Park Health Center and senior associate dean of Student Affairs, stressed the importance of a comprehensive facility: “It will provide better care because not only will there be more room, but also people can talk to one another. Counseling Services is there; PT’s right there; IT’s right there; all the health care’s right there. We’re all together. There will be better communication.”

Prior to the health center donation, the Engemanns gave $500,000 from their family foundation that focuses on education, medical research and human services to establish the USC School of Dramatic Arts’ building fund, as well as $500,000 to finance the USC Baseball Hall of Fame at Dedeaux Field.

Both baseball and theater are near and dear to Michele Engemann. Her drama training at USC led her to perform for the Nine O’Clock Players Theatre for Children, where she has been involved for 41 years. And thanks to a fellow performer, that group is also where she met her husband.

“A friend introduced us almost 32 years ago, and she thought we would be a perfect match. She was right,” said Michele Engemann about her husband, a University of Oregon graduate. “We enjoy all the same things, and he has really embraced the Trojan Family.”

The university is like home for Michele Engemann, who grew up playing with her brothers and sisters under the trees on campus.

The Engemanns have two USC graduates, Alex and Suzanne ’03, who earned a degree from the USC Rossier School of Education. Daughters Susan and Carrie graduated from Scripps College, where Roger Engemann serves on the Board of Trustees.

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Engemanns have a healthy attitude

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