The University of Southern California has received a gift of $60 million from an alumna of the school considered to be a pioneer in the field of social work.
Made by Suzanne Dworak-Peck, the gift is one of the largest contributions of its kind to be made to a school. The donation will endow and also name the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. School officials noted that the gift would make sure the school was able to continue its influence on social work policy, research, and education.
“Suzanne Dworak-Peck is a visionary who has shown extraordinary leadership in her field, almost single-handedly changing how we perceive social workers,” USC President C.L. Max Nikias said. “In the trenches from the very start of her career, she has shown that her compassion and selflessness have no bounds.”
Dworak-Peck earned her bachelor’s degree as well as her master’s degree from the school in the 1960s. She said she would like to see the gift ensure that the school continue to educate future social workers. Currently, one out of every 20 master’s-level social workers in the country graduate from the University, with an enrollment of around 3,500 students.
“My wish is that this endowment will create greater awareness and understanding for the local, national and global community about the profound impact of the social work profession,” she said. “By educating and building professional social workers who are visionary game-changers, we are investing in solutions to society’s significant problems, like homelessness and poverty.”
She went on to say that future students of the school need to not only educate themselves in the traditional areas of social work, but they should also learn to think about how to apply the skills they learn to business, media, and politics.
Throughout her career, Dworak-Peck was president of the National Association of Social Workers and the International Federation of Social Workers. She also founded the NASW Communications Network, which offers information and resources on social issues to media and entertainment industries.
Dworak-Peck also put effort into real estate investments, which she said resulted in her ability to make such a large donation to the school, writes Rosanna Xia for The Los Angeles Times.
Founded in 1920, the school is the largest social work school in the world. It has influenced national policy discussions concerning homelessness, aging, and the mental health of veterans. The school is also a leader in the area of military social work, having created the first military social work program established by a civilian research university.
The school is also well-known for its graduate nursing program as well as its research concerning aging and quality of life.
Earlier in the month, the school partnered with the university’s Viterbi School of Engineering in the creation of a center that will help to put an end to the large-scale societal issues by bringing together computer scientists who use artificial intelligence and social workers.