The University of Southern California is a leading private research university located in Los Angeles — a global center for arts, technology and international business. It is home to the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and 21 exceptional academic schools and units. USC’s Health Sciences campus houses renowned specialized care and research in cancer, stem cell and regenerative medicine, orthopedics and sports medicine. The university is the largest private sector employer in the city of Los Angeles, responsible for $8 billion annually in economic activity in the region.
Los Angeles was a rough-and-tumble frontier town in the early 1870s, when a group of public-spirited citizens led by Judge Robert Maclay Widney first dreamed of establishing a university in the region. It took nearly a decade for this vision to become a reality, but in 1879 Widney formed a board of trustees and secured a donation of 308 lots of land from three prominent members of the community – Ozro W. Childs, a Protestant horticulturist; former California governor John G. Downey, an Irish-Catholic pharmacist and businessman; and Isaias W. Hellman, a German-Jewish banker and philanthropist. The gift provided land for a campus as well as a source of endowment, the seeds of financial support for the nascent institution.