April 24, 2017 – The University of Southern California honored Rick J. Caruso, ’80, with its most distinguished alumni honor, the Asa V. Call Award, at its 84th Annual Alumni Awards on Saturday, April 22, held in downtown Los Angeles. The Asa V. Call Award is given to an alumnus who has shown exceptional commitment to the university and community by generously giving their time, energy and leadership.
“Rick Caruso’s immense pride for USC is unsurpassed, and his love of the school is visible across our campuses,” said USC president C. L. Max Nikias. “That includes the Tina and Rick Caruso Department of Otolaryngology, the USC Caruso Catholic Center, and Our Savior Parish Church. With inspired generosity, Rick and his wife, Tina, are putting into practice their philanthropic vision, which will benefit Trojans for many generations to come.”
“I am so honored to receive this award from USC,” Caruso said. “My years at USC fundamentally changed my perspective on what it means to be part of a community, and what my responsibilities are as a member of that community. There isn’t a better university that changes the lives of young people so significantly, and they have won my respect, commitment, devotion and gratitude.”
Caruso, a USC Trustee, is a dedicated philanthropist, civic leader, and businessman. A lifelong resident of Los Angeles, Caruso served the City of Los Angeles as the commissioner of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and as president of the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners. In 1991, he and his wife, Tina, launched the Caruso Family Foundation, which is dedicated to improving the lives of at-risk children and their families in Southern California. The Foundation is instrumental in supporting Operation Progress, which takes a holistic approach to empowering underserved scholars and enriching their lives both in and out of the classroom thanks to support from LAPD mentors and local volunteers; and Para Los Niños, a Skid Row-based nonprofit social services and education organization dedicated to the success of Los Angeles’s neediest children and families, among other organizations.
The Carusos have donated more than $50 million to USC, most recently $25 million to endow the USC Tina and Rick Caruso Department of Otolaryngology, one of the nation’s largest and highest ranked facilities for research and treatment of diseases of the ear, nose and throat. Their gift also named and endowed the department’s affiliated treatment center for young children with severe hearing loss, the USC Caruso Family Center for Childhood Communication. The Carusos’ previous naming gift established the USC Caruso Catholic Center, and was the lead gift in building the Center and Our Savior Parish Church, which provide spiritual support for many USC students. A member of the USC Board of Trustees since 2007, Caruso also serves on the USC Price School of Public Policy Board of Councilors.
Caruso and his wife are the proud parents of four children. He is the CEO and founder of Caruso, one of the largest, privately held real estate development companies in the U.S., which has created some of Southern California’s most extraordinary destinations, including The Grove and The Americana at Brand.
The USC Alumni Association also recognized six notable Trojans for their achievements and contributions to the University. Wanda M. Austin PhD ’88, the former president and CEO of The Aerospace Corporation, and a member of the USC Board of Trustees since 2010; Grant Gershon ’85, the artistic director of the Los Angeles Master Chorale and the resident conductor of LA Opera; and Wilfred “Fred” Uytengsu ’83, the president and CEO of Alaska Milk Corp., the leading milk company in the Philippines, all who received Alumni Merit Awards. Allyson Felix ’08, nine-time Olympic medalist and the most decorated woman in American track and field history, received the Young Alumni Merit Award. Dan Cassidy ’59, a past president and a current member of the Half Century Trojans Board of Directors, and Vicki McCluggage ’76, a past president of the Trojan League of Los Angeles and longtime university volunteer, received Alumni Service Awards.
Every year since 1932, the USC Alumni Association has paid tribute to distinguished members of the Trojan Family. The annual Alumni Awards gala is the premier event hosted by the USC Alumni Association. Past honorees include Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong ’70, world-renowned architect Frank O. Gehry ’54, opera great Marilyn Horne ’53 and Academy Award-winning filmmaker Robert Zemeckis ’73. All proceeds from the event support the USC Alumni Association’s programs and services. For more information, please visit http://alumni.usc.edu/awards/.
About the USC Alumni Association
The USC Alumni Association’s mission is to support the overall advancement of the University of Southern California by engaging all alumni for life, building a culture of philanthropy among the Trojan Family, and being the representative voice for all USC alumni.
The USC Alumni Association annually hosts hundreds of events and programs around the globe. Providing a wide variety of benefits and services to more than 389,000 members worldwide, the USC Alumni Association supports more than 100 affiliated alumni clubs, alumni networks, alumnae support groups and multicultural and generational alumni communities. These groups collectively distribute nearly four million dollars each year in scholarships for USC students. The 2016-17 USC Alumni Association Board of Governors president is Rod Y. Nakamoto ’83, MBA ’94 and USC’s Associate Senior Vice President for Alumni Relations is Patrick E. Auerbach EdD ’08.