Foundation’s donation funds honors housing

The Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Foundation announced a $30 million donation Wednesday to endow the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Foundation Honors Hall in the new Village, which is currently under construction. The honors hall, which is set to open with the rest of The Village in fall 2017, will have approximately 600 beds exclusively for freshman honors students.

The honors college, which will house both the Kathleen L. McCarthy Honors College and the Honors Residence Hall, will be one of five residential colleges to be built as part of the billion-dollar USC Village project. The Village is expected to add approximately 2,700 beds of additional student housing.

“It will give so many more students the opportunity to live on campus, which will be a tremendous benefit to them,” McCarthy said in a statement. “USC Village is going to be a very special addition to the university, and we feel fortunate to make a gift to help start it off.”

The honors college, which will serve as the residential component of the honors program that is currently in place, will also provide exclusive academic, cultural and social programming for freshman honors students. These  include  mentorships from university faculty, honors seminars and one-on-one advising. The Leavey Foundation gift will go exclusively towards funding residential college programming, as opposed to the actual construction of the facility.

“What we’re doing now is making the honors program more robust,” Vice Provost for Student Affairs Ainsley Carry said in an interview with the Daily Trojan. “This gift in particular and other gifts like this give us a chance to build the 21st century global research university residential experience. Over the next three years, you’ll see a rapid enhancement on the quality of life and living at ’SC because of gifts like this.”

Carry said the university aims to emulate the scholarship and community found in the Greek system by enhancing the residential college experience on campus.

“Residential colleges are where people live together and learn together, and we already have something similar to that — our Greek system,” Carry said. “We want people to feel the same affinity that they do with their Greek organizations with their residential colleges. We want to duplicate the level of engagement and family that is not Greek-affiliated.”

The Los Angeles-based Leavey Foundation was founded in 1952 Thomas Leavey, a co-founder of Farmers Insurance Group, and his wife, Dorothy. The foundation, which ranks as one of the largest philanthropic organizations in California, is chaired by their daughter, USC Trustee Kathleen Leavey McCarthy, who graduated from USC in 1957.

“Kathleen McCarthy has an abiding passion for our students and understands the importance of providing them with supportive and intellectually engaging residential communities,” President C. L. Max Nikias said in a statement. “We’re tremendously grateful that she stepped forward to make the first major gift to the USC Village, a project that will immeasurably enhance residential life for our students.”

This isn’t the first time the Leavey Foundation has donated to the university. The foundation has had a long history of philanthropy at USC, with past contributions including gifts for both Leavey Library and McCarthy Quad, as well as various scholarship endowments. In all, the foundation has donated more than $200 million to different institutions, including Georgetown University, Loyola Marymount University and Santa Clara University.

This gift comes in the midst of the university’s “Campaign for the University of Southern California,” which aims to raise $6 billion for academic programs and building projects. Now in its third year, the campaign has raised more than $3.5 billion.

The Village is also expected to include a full-service grocery store and 100,000 square feet of retail space. The formal groundbreaking will take place on Sept. 15.