Though some students have seen it, the new Engemann Student Health Center officially opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday.
The five-level health center, located on West 34th Street near the Lyon Center, opened its doors to sick students, faculty and staff on Jan. 4. Roger Engemann and ’68 alumna Michele Dedeaux Engemann donated $15 million for USC to improve its health facilities.
An audience of alumni, faculty, staff and students gave the Engemanns a standing ovation when Vice President of Student Affairs Michael Jackson introduced them.
It is fitting too, as Michele Engemann’s Trojan roots run deep. Elected to the Board of Trustees in October 2012, Michele Engemann is also a lifetime member of Town & Gown of USC, Skull and Dagger, the Keck Hospital of USC Guild, the Trojan Guild of Los Angeles and the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority. She also served as the president of the USC Alumni Association Board of Governors from 2007 to 2008.
Michele Engemann attributes her and her husband’s donation for the health center to an experience from when she was at USC.
According to Michele, she and her play case were getting ready for a weekend show when on a Wednesday at six in the morning she received a call telling her to go to the health center immediately.
She said the health center, a tiny building with “tacky stairs and a ramp,” seemed inadequate when she was a student in the ’60s. When she and her classmates had to get shots, they lined up on the street because the health center was too small to accommodate them.
She then vowed to one day make the health center better.
“We finally made it,” she said.
Construction on the building began in April 2011 and the university estimated it would be complete by February 2013. Roger Engemann was impressed by the early completion.
“It seems like just the other day we were shoveling dirt, wearing hard hats and taking our picture,” Roger Engemann said. “But look! Poof!”
The Engemanns have also helped support USC through a $500,000 donation to the School of Dramatic Arts, where Michele Engemann majored in theatre, and $500,000 for a Baseball Hall of Fame at Dedeaux Field, which is named after Michele Engemann’s father.
President C. L. Max Nikias said the grand opening of the center signifies USC’s commitment to the health of its community.
“This beautiful building has shown that the future has truly arrived at USC,” Nikias said. “It is important for both the students of today and the students of tomorrow.”
Lawrence Neinstein, executive director of the University Park Health Center, thanked the Engemanns for allowing USC to replace the old health center, which was built in 1951.
“[Getting a new health center] has been an 18-year-long journey,” Neinstein said. “The Engemanns made our dream a reality.”
Catherine De Francesco, senior administrative director of the University Park Health Center, credited the final project to the generosity of the Engemanns.
“The students needed a state-of-the-art health center,” Defrancesco said. “The result is pretty amazing.”
Nurse Janice Li, who works at the health center, described the new building as more beautiful, larger and more innovative because of the more modern medical equipment. Li also said with the new space and resources, the health center will be able to have more specialists come in.
“It’s truly state-of-the-art,” Li said.
Julia Dwyer, a freshman majoring in chemical engineering, went to the center because of a sprained ankle this semester. When she went, Dwyer was impressed with the new building’s size and resources.
“The new health center is much larger, cleaner and fancier than the old one,” Dwyer said. “It feels like you are in a real hospital and are being taken care of by experts. It has a more professional vibe.”