Donation funds new disability center

USC received a $10-million donation from two university parents to develop a disabilities center designed to help those with learning difficulties.

Helping hand · The old disabilities center will move to a new location that has a larger space for tutoring, computers and study rooms. - Anne Su | Daily Trojan

The gift from Walter and Marcia Kortschak is one of the largest non-alumni donations in the university’s history. It is also the largest donation ever made to the Division of Student Affairs.

“Our hope is that this center will help to demystify learning differences, provide current students with state-of-the-art assistive technologies and strong learning strategies to excel in their chosen field and thereby promote the power of self advocacy,” Walter Kortschak said.

The USC Kortschak Center for Learning and Creativity will provide aid to students with dyslexia, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and other learning difficulties by providing tutoring, personal counseling, technological assistance, academic research and one-on-one help to students.

Students with special learning differences are currently assisted through USC’s Center for Academic Support and Disability Services & Programs, located on the third floor of the Student Union.

The Kortschak family studied a number of other centers at leading research universities such as Stanford and Yale that support students with dyslexia and other learning differences before it found the right match at USC, Walter Kortschak said.

“We took our time to make sure our objectives were aligned with USC and to design a program that takes advantage of the interdisciplinary strengths of the university,” he said. “USC is unique because of its amazing breadth of research capabilities within the College, the Keck School of Medicine, the Rossier School of Education and the Occupational Science and Therapy program, which will provide for excellent collaboration between these disciplines.”

The new center — slated to be about 2,000 square feet in size — will accommodate three full-time staff, eight tutors and eight learning assistants, said Edward Roth, assistant dean and director of USC Disability Services & Programs.

“The new center will be a terrific resource for students with learning disabilities and ADHD who learn differently,” Roth wrote in an e-mail.

There will also be a study area, learning assistance area and space for one-on-one learning assistance. Students will be able to work with computers and other assistive technology, Roth said.

“We need to bring out the best in each and every student and provide them with the learning supports to reach their highest potential,” Walter Kortschak said.

The program also plans to continuously recruit more “world-class educators” to aid students, Walter Kortschak said.

Students at the Kortschak Center will have access to other professional resources outside the center, including psychologists, occupational therapists, neuropsychologist and other specialists, according to the Division of Student Affairs.

The Kortschaks are the parents of Andrew Kortschak, a junior majoring in political science and cinematic arts, and Sarah Kortschak, an undeclared freshman. Walter Kortschak also serves on the Board of Leaders at the Marshall School of Business.