President C. L. Max Nikias and Vice President of Admissions and Planning Katharine Harrington held a ceremony at the Ronald Tutor Campus Center yesterday to announce USC has received the largest single scholarship donation in the university’s history.
Julie and John Mork donated $110 million to USC to fund the Mork Family Scholars Program, which will provide a select group of undergraduate students full tuition and $5,000 living stipends for four years.
“I’m thrilled about the future. We were worried education is going up cost-wise and great kids cannot get in,” John Mork said. “We want to help anyway we can. We are really blessed to be able to do this.”
About 100 undergraduates will benefit from the scholarships each year, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The Mork family specifically requested a portion of each year’s Mork Scholars come from high schools in the community surrounding the USC area.
“Julie and John and their family believe that education plays a valuable role in life,” Nikias said. “The greatest gift given to another individual is the gift of education.”
Nikias, who has been president of the university for about eight months, has helped acquire five sizable donations already.
When Nikias was inaugurated Oct. 15, trustee Ming Hsieh announced a $50 million donation to the university for cancer research, and the Annenberg Foundation announced a $50 million donation to construct a new building for the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism. More recently, Dana and David Dornsife donated $200 million in an unrestricted endowment to the USC College of Letters, Arts & Sciences. Roger and Michele Dedeaux Engemann have also donated $15 million to build a new student health center.
This new scholarship fund will assist students who could otherwise not afford USC.
“It is great that the scholarships will help students from local communities who may be doing well in school, but facing local disparities,” said Carmina Gomez, a senior majoring in health promotion and disease prevention.
Mork Scholars will have the same benefits as Trustee and Presidential Scholars, which include living at the residential honors college and access to other programs throughout their time at USC.
Lisa Verzemnieks, a Trustee Scholar and senior majoring in civil engineering, said her scholarship changed her educational path.
“My family was not in the position to send me to my dream school, but being a Trustee Scholar has given me more opportunities than I could have ever imagine,” Verzemneiks said. “I would not be here without people like the Mork family.”
John Mork graduated from USC in 1970 with a degree in petroleum engineering.
He is currently the chief executive of Energy Corp. of America, a private company that handles the exploration, extraction, production and transportation of natural gas and oil, based in Denver, Colorado.
Julie Mork, who graduated from UCLA, is the managing director of the Energy Corp. of America Foundation, a charitable organization that focuses on children and education.
The Morks are not new to offering philanthropic gifts to the university. In 2005, the family donated $15 million to benefit the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, and the department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science is now named in honor of the Mork family.
To show appreciation for their gift, USC will be place a plaque with the names and images of the Mork family at Bovard Auditorium.
“This may seem like a celebration of a gift, but it is really a celebration of the future,” Mork said.
David Lowenstein contributed to this report.