Longtime supporters’ gift benefits USC engineering, dance and film schools

USC Viterbi alumnus Patrick Fuscoe and his wife, Bonnie, have donated $12 million to advance programs at three USC schools that shaped their lives.

September 10, 2019 Daniel Druhora

Longtime USC supporters Patrick and Bonnie Fuscoe have given $10 million to the USC Viterbi School of Engineering and $1 million each to the USC Kaufman School of Dance and USC School of Cinematic Arts.

The gifts will support the general funds of the three schools, which are used to fund educational programs, laboratory spaces, facilities and interdisciplinary activities that benefit students and faculty members.

The couple met in 1972 as undergraduate students at USC, where Bonnie Fuscoe studied art and Patrick Fuscoe studied civil engineering. Their daughter, Sally, and son, Patrick Jr., also earned USC degrees.

“We are immensely grateful to Pat and Bonnie for their faith in the Viterbi School, its vision and its power as a source of good for all humanity,” said USC Viterbi Dean Yannis C. Yortsos. “Their gift will help to continue changing the conversation about engineering, about who we are, what we do and what we look like.”

First-generation college student finds path at USC

A native of Torrance, Patrick was the first in his family to go to college. He chose to go to USC because his father, a mechanic for United Airlines, respected the engineering school. His father promised Patrick he would lend him the family car, a 1957 Volkswagen, to drive to classes at USC if he studied engineering.

USC shaped me into the man I have become. I learned self-confidence, creativity, resourcefulness, empathy, teamwork and most of all, leadership here.

Patrick Fuscoe

“I was a 2.6-grade-point-average kid from Torrance with a beat-up Volkswagen and $1 for lunch,” Patrick said. “USC shaped me into the man I have become. I learned self-confidence, creativity, resourcefulness, empathy, teamwork and most of all, leadership here.”

In 1992, he founded Fuscoe Engineering, then grew the company from just three employees to an award-winning, internationally recognized engineering firm whose projects include the Cars Land attraction at Disneyland. He considers his most significant career achievement to be the design and construction of Woodbridge, a 2,000-acre planned community with lakes that he completed in Irvine at age 27.

Gift from USC family bridges science and art

It was at USC that Patrick met his future wife, Bonnie. Bonnie spent two years at USC before transferring to Otis College of Art and Design.

“Bonnie taught me that beauty matters,” Patrick said. The couple believes that there is an intrinsic beauty in science, technology, engineering and math, and that art can enrich it.

Their daughter, Sally Anne Fuscoe, enrolled at USC to study dance and found herself directing, lighting and choreographing student productions. USC later expanded its dance programs to form the USC Kaufman School of Dance, and Sally’s experiences spurred her parents to support the school through their gift.

“We are grateful to the Fuscoe family for this extraordinary gift to USC Kaufman,” said Robert Cutietta, dean of USC Kaufman. “It is a wonderful tribute to Sally’s love of the art form and her personal experience dancing during her time on campus, and a deeply impactful legacy of support which will help ensure that this cherished school continues to grow and thrive in the future.”

Sally graduated from the USC School of Cinematic Arts, earning her bachelor’s degree in critical studies in 2006. She has had a successful career as an editor for films and hit television shows such as CBS’s Elementary.

“The USC School of Cinematic Arts simply couldn’t continue its mission to train the next generation of industry leaders without the support of people like Bonnie and Patrick Fuscoe,” said Elizabeth M. Daley, dean of the USC School of Cinematic Arts. “Their generosity makes a real difference in the lives of our students.”

The Fuscoe family’s connections to USC continued with Patrick Jr., who graduated from USC Viterbi with a master’s degree in computer science in May. He combines cognitive science, environmental engineering and chemistry to build software that improves people’s lives.

USC supporters believe in power of ‘full-circle thinking’

The Fuscoes view engineering, dance and cinema as disciplines that inform one another to widen the arc of creativity and drive innovation. They cited their time at USC as the origin of their life’s vision to “build remarkable places.”

“All things in life are connected,” Patrick said. It’s a philosophy ingrained into his company, something he calls “full-circle thinking.”

We feel thankful that we and our children are able to do what we love in life, and we have learned that here.

Patrick Fuscoe

“As engineers, as designers, we need to understand the role we play in creating the delicate balance between built and natural environments,” he said. “Just before you submit that design to the client, stop for a second and say, ‘What if I couldn’t do this?’ What if they just said, ‘No, you can’t use concrete.’ It makes you think. So, you start looking around and you see rivers that nature has had for millions of years that are working fine. And you say, ‘Oh, what if we put rocks in the sides of the channel and let grass grow around it?’ See, that’s the power of full-circle thinking.”

The Fuscoes said they believe in the forward-thinking, creative vision of USC and along with their gift, they’d like to pass their legacy of building remarkable places to future generations of Trojans.

“Find your own edge,” Patrick said. “What makes you who you are? And are you ready for the work that lies ahead? We feel thankful that we and our children are able to do what we love in life, and we have learned that here. That’s the reason we’re giving back to this remarkable place.”