Qualcomm Inc. co-founder and the inventor of the Viterbi algorithm, which is considered key to cellphone technology, Andrew Viterbi and his wife, Erna, have added to their rich legacy of philanthropy a generous $15 million gift to University of Southern California.
The San Diego couple made the donation through the Jewish Community Foundation of San Diego to support research into the Holocaust and to fund engineering school professorships. .
The Viterbis gave $5 million to endow the executive director’s position at the USC Shoah Foundation, which collects video testimonies from survivors of the Holocaust and other genocides.
The remaining $10 million will fund five professorships and graduate fellowships at the Viterbi School of Engineering, which was established with the couple’s $52 million donation in 2004.
The couple’s gift comes as USC Viterbi approaches the 10th anniversary of the Viterbis’ original $52 million naming gift in 2004. USC Shoah Foundation marks its own 20th anniversary this year as well.
Directed from the Andrew and Erna Viterbi Fund of the Jewish Community Foundation of San Diego, the gift will create five endowed faculty chairs and five graduate student fellowships at USC Viterbi. Their gift will also endow the Andrew J. And Erna Finci Viterbi Executive Director, Chair at USC Shoah Foundation, which will amplify efforts to share testimonies of Holocaust and genocide survivors around the world. USC Shoah Foundation Executive Director Stephen D. Smith will be installed as the inaugural holder of the chair.
Their gift provides significant support for USC Viterbi’s $500 million initiative, which aims to bolster endowment funds for faculty research, student scholarships, academic programming and capital projects. The Viterbi initiative has raised more than $241 million.
The Viterbis’ gift also puts USC Shoah Foundation’s fundraising initiative over $72 million—nearly half of its $150 million goal. This contribution represents a landmark in the institute’s history, as it is the largest gift the institute has received since becoming part of USC in 2006.
These two initiatives support the larger Campaign for the University of Southern California, a multiyear effort that seeks to raise $6 billion or more in private philanthropy to advance the USC’s academic priorities and expand its positive impact on the community and the world. Three years after its launch, the campaign has raised more than $3.4 billion.