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In memoriam: Longtime USC supporter Jane Hoffman Popovich, 71

The alumna and philanthropist was a true Trojan who leaves the university with wonderful memories, says USC President Nikias

The Popoviches
J. Kristoffer and Jane Popovich have pledged more than $20 million to USC. (Photo/courtesy of the Popovich family)

USC Trustee Jane Hoffman Popovich ’65, an accomplished businesswoman and philanthropist with a lifelong commitment to the university and the community, died Aug. 4 following a long battle with cancer. She was 71.

“My wife, Niki, and I will miss Jane deeply,” said USC President C. L. Max Nikias. “She was a close and caring friend, a good neighbor and, yes, a great Trojan. She has left all of us with so many wonderful memories at USC and in Sun Valley, that we will cherish them for the rest of our lives.”

Generous benefactors

Popovich and her husband, J. Kristoffer Popovich ’65, MBA ’70, have been longtime, generous volunteers and benefactors to USC, supporting many areas of the university, including the USC Marshall School of Business, the Keck School of Medicine of USC, and USC Athletics. Their giving, which encompasses more than $20 million in gifts and pledges, most recently included $4 million toward cancer research at USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center in June.

Popovich, who earned a bachelor’s degree from USC Marshall in 1965, was a proud supporter of business education at USC. She served as a trustee of the H. Leslie Hoffman and Elaine S. Hoffman Foundation, which made a lead gift of $5 million in 1992 toward construction of a technologically advanced facility for USC Marshall graduate programs. In recognition, the building was named Jane Hoffman and J. Kristoffer Popovich Hall.

After the Popovich Hall dedication, she wrote in a USC Marshall newsletter, “I treasure supporting the outstanding students at USC Marshall. They are smart, generous and come to Marshall ready to learn. They leave it ready to become global leaders.”

The couple donated $5 million to establish the Popovich Family Scholarship Fund for business students.

The USC Marshall community today mourns the loss of one of its most stalwart supporters and beloved leaders.

James G. Ellis

“The USC Marshall community today mourns the loss of one of its most stalwart supporters and beloved leaders,” James G. Ellis, the school’s dean. “Jane Popovich created a lasting legacy of optimism and conviction in the potential of our students to make the world a better place through leadership at home and across the globe. On a personal level, Gail and I have lost a dear friend whose radiant smile, curiosity and zest for life will be missed. Our thoughts are with Kris and the entire Popovich family.”

The Hoffman connection

Advancing the legacy of her parents, H. Leslie and Elaine S. Hoffman, was of paramount importance to Jane Popovich. Her parents were avid supporters of higher education in Los Angeles, which was a driving force for their decades-long support of USC — even though they didn’t attend the university. Two USC buildings bear the Hoffmans’ names: H. Leslie Hoffman Hall of Business Administration for her father, a 17-year member of the USC Board of Trustees and national committee chair of the university’s 1961 Master Plan; and Elaine Stevely Hoffman Medical Research Center on the USC Health Sciences Campus for her mother.

Popovich credited her father for serving as a role model. “He gave me the tools and the resources that have enabled me to support USC and carry on a tradition of giving back to the community,” she said in 2006 upon accepting USC Marshall’s Phoenix Award, which honored her career longevity and philanthropy.

Cancer research also was a major focus of her family’s charitable giving and involvement. The Popoviches’ $4 million gift this year funded the Jane and Kris Popovich Chair in Cancer Research at USC Norris. The donation came a decade after the family’s gift to endow the H. Leslie Hoffman and Elaine S. Hoffman Chair in Cancer Research at the Keck School of Medicine.

The couple and their daughters and sons-in-law also have been major supporters of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and other causes.

She joined the USC Board of Trustees in 1983.

Jane Popovich embodied Trojan Family ideals.

John Mork

“Jane Popovich embodied Trojan Family ideals,” said John Mork ’70, MS ’12, chair of the USC Board of Trustees. “Like her parents before her, she was passionate about the capacity for higher education to change lives. Jane will be remembered for her legendary contributions to the Trojan Family. Her keen intellect, warm smile and giant heart will be missed but never forgotten.”

Awards and activities

Her longtime dedication to USC was recognized in 1997, when she received the Alumni Merit Award from the USC Alumni Association. One of 55 founding members of the USC Associates, she served as its president as well as on the USC Marshall Board of Leaders, and the board of Women of Troy. Her involvement extended to Town & Gown and its Junior Auxiliary, as well as membership on the USC Associates’ San Gabriel Valley Steering Committee.

A resident of San Marino, Jane Popovich volunteered extensively in her community. She was a member of the board and past president of the Kidspace Children’s Museum in Pasadena, and served on the boards of the Junior League of Pasadena, Huntington Hospital, Westridge School and the National Charity League.

The Popoviches operated Hoffman Associates, a successor of Western Mortgage, which developed and managed real estate, and Hoffman Video Systems, which integrated audio and video equipment for commercial applications. Both firms built on the success of companies founded by her father. In addition, her interest in fashion led her to a 20-year career operating her own retail clothing stores and a catalog.

Jane Popovich is survived by her husband, Kris, three daughters and sons-in-law — Kimberly and Robert Shepherd, Tricia and Michael Fink and Jennifer ’96 and Christopher Allen MBA ’09 — and eight grandchildren. A mass will be held on Thursday, Aug. 20 at 11 a.m. at Holy Family Church, located at 1501 Fremont Ave., South Pasadena.

A special tribute to her life will be held on campus in the fall.

Donations in her memory may be made to USC Norris Cancer Hospital, the USC Marshall School of Business and the Kidspace Museum.

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In memoriam: Longtime USC supporter Jane Hoffman Popovich, 71

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