Differences in learning styles don’t have to mean differences in academic achievement, thanks to USC parents Walter and Marcia Kortschak, who along with their children Andrew and Sarah, recently made a more than $10 million gift commitment, the largest in USC Student Affairs history.
The funds will establish an endowment for the creation of the USC Kortschak Center for Learning and Creativity, which will provide a broad array of innovative services to students with dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and other identified learning differences.
Under the direction of Edward Roth, director of USC’s Disability Services and Programs, and the supervision of Pat Tobey, the associate dean of students responsible for academic support, the new center will offer enhanced services such as individual learning strategy sessions, tutoring in academic disciplines and state-of-the-art assistive tech-nologies. Students also will have access to outside professionals, including educational psychologists, occupational therapists, neuropsychologists within the university and other learning specialists.
“The USC Kortschak Center is the realization of the Kortschak family and USC’s shared commitment to ensuring that every creative mind has the opportunity to thrive and succeed, regardless of learning style,” said USC President C. L. Max Nikias. “The center will position the university at the forefront of both support and research for students with learning differences.”
Marcia Kortschak added, “What is most exciting to our family is to have the opportunity to partner with USC to support students who learn differently and to provide these students with the support necessary for them to reach their full academic and creative potential. It is our hope that the USC Kortschak Center will inspire other universities to examine and improve upon their own levels of support, emphasizing students’ abilities rather than their disabilities.”
In the past, students with special learning needs have received assistance through the Center for Academic Support and Disability Services and Programs. The center will not duplicate the current efforts of these departments, but will expand on existing academic support services and focus on specific needs of students with learning differences.
“We saw a need for the establishment of a separate center to help take our programs and services to another level of excellence, and there’s no doubt that the USC Kortschak Center will help us achieve that. We are incredibly excited about this new partnership with the Kortschak family,” said Michael L. Jackson, vice president for Student Affairs.
The USC Kortschak Center will be based on a multidisciplinary approach to assisting students. Because of the number of experts in fields related to learning differences at USC, the center will emphasize partnerships and collaboration with faculty and staff across the university. The center will become a field site for researchers and graduate students, attracting the most accomplished disability scholars in the nation.
“We are excited to be partnering with a dedicated and outstanding group of educators to help further our family’s passion for supporting students who learn differently,” Walter Kortschak said. “To our knowledge, there is no other center in the nation with a multidisciplinary approach to enhancing learning and support strategies for this population of students.”
USC Kortschak Center: Supporting Learning and Creativity by Sam Lopez, USC Student Affairs 2009-2010 Highlights