Alumni gala

The gala was part of the USC Alumni Association’s 100th anniversary celebration. (USC Photo/Vince Bucci, Steve Cohn Photography)


USC Alumni Association marks centennial at annual Alumni Awards gala

The event celebrated the strength of the Trojan Family and its network.

April 24, 2024 By Saúl García and David Medzerian

Trojan alumni from around the globe gathered at the Fairmont Century Plaza hotel in Century City over the weekend for the 90th annual USC Alumni Awards gala. The overarching themes of the evening — a highlight of the USC Alumni Association’s yearlong 100th anniversary festivities — were the strength of the Trojan Family, “paying it forward” and giving back.

Those traits are hallmarks in the life of Charles “Chuck” Cale, who received the highest honor of the evening: the Asa V. Call Alumni Achievement Award.

Cale, who earned his Master of Laws degree from what is now the USC Gould School of Law in 1966, spoke of how Trojans’ sense of family sets USC’s alumni network apart from that of any other university.

“We may have our differences, but we stick together,” Cale said. “We look out for each other. That is what family does. And that is what makes us strong.”

USC Alumni Awards: Charles Cale and USC President Carol Folt
Charles Cale shares a moment with President Folt. (Photo/Greg Grudt, Steve Cohn Photography)

USC President Carol Folt described Cale as a “lifelong and dedicated Trojan” who has made an impact throughout the university and Los Angeles. She applauded his commitment to the university as a member of the Board of Trustees, as well as his gifts that endowed the Charles Griffin Cale Director of Athletics’ Chair and named the Charles Cale Residential College at USC Village.

“He also loves the closeness, that connection that everyone shares as a Trojan — the desire Trojans have to really get to know other people, and maybe more importantly, to pay it forward to make sure they do good for others,” Folt said.

USC Alumni Awards: Rachel Scott
“I am proof of all that can happen when someone believes in you,” ABC News senior congressional correspondent Rachel Scott told the audience. (USC Photo/Greg Grudt, Steve Cohn Photography)

Each of the evening’s honorees spoke passionately about the strength of the Trojan Family and how it pushed them forward both academically and professionally.

“I am proof of all that can happen when someone believes in you,” ABC News senior congressional correspondent Rachel Scott said. The alumna of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism received the Young Alumni Merit Award. “My hope in this life is to be that person for someone else — what [USC Annenberg Dean Willow Bay], and this university, and USC Annenberg has been for me.”

Renata Simril, one of the recipients of the Alumni Merit Award given to alumni with remarkable and professional accomplishments that have brought recognition to themselves and the university, recalled her time at USC.

USC Alumni Awards: Renata Simril
“As a student, I was equipped not only with practical skills but also with a profound sense of purpose,” Renata Simril told the crowd. (USC Photo/Greg Grudt, Steve Cohn Photography)

“This university — where I once walked as a graduate student, filled with dreams and aspirations — nurtured my ambitions and sharpened my commitment to community service,” said Simril, president and CEO of the LA84 Foundation. “As a student, I was equipped not only with practical skills but also with a profound sense of purpose.”

The support and mentorship she received as a student vaulted her to her current role and has inspired her to give back.

“Let us all continue to support and lift each other up, to build bridges where there are gaps, to lead with compassion and empathy,” she said.

The event honored an accomplished collection of Trojans from the front lines of public health and broadcast media to community and economic development. Here is the full list of award recipients.

USC Alumni Awards: Asa V. Call Alumni Achievement Award

USC Alumni Awards: Charles Cale
Charles Cale is the recipient of the Asa V. Call Alumni Achievement Award. (Photo/Courtesy of Charles Cale)

Life Trustee Charles Cale has long been a steadfast supporter of USC academic priorities as well as USC Athletics. In 2011, he and his wife, Jessie Cale, endowed the Charles Griffin Cale Director of Athletics’ Chair. Six years later, the couple made a gift to endow and name the Cale Residential College.

In 2016, Cale was elected to the USC Board of Trustees. He previously served on the USC President’s Leadership Council and is a founding board member of the Women of Troy, which champions gender equality and the principles of Title IX in USC Athletics.

A managing member of the investment company Griffin Opportunities LLC, Cale is a passionate supporter of the U.S. Olympic team and has held leadership positions on several Olympic committees.

Cale is an alumnus of the USC Gould School of Law. His wife and three children all attended USC as well.

In addition to recognizing Cale, the Alumni Association will honor two outstanding alumni with Alumni Merit Awards, an extraordinary alumna with this year’s Young Alumni Merit Award and three exemplary Trojans with Alumni Service Awards.

USC Alumni Awards: Alumni Merit Awards

USC Alumni Awards: Diana Ramos
(Photo/Courtesy of Diana Ramos)

Diana E. Ramos ’88, MD ’94 is a renowned public health leader who made history in 2022, when she became California’s first Latina surgeon general. In that role, she serves as the key spokesperson on public health issues throughout the state and advises the governor on efforts to address health risks and challenges as effectively and early as possible. An obstetrician gynecologist, Ramos has served as adjunct associate professor at the Keck School of Medicine of USC for many years. She is also a member of the school’s Salerni Collegium Alumni Association Board of Directors.

USC Alumni Awards: Renata Simril
(Photo/Courtesy of Renata Simril)

Renata Simril MRED ’99 is the president and CEO of the LA84 Foundation, an organization that has transformed the lives of kids across Southern California through sports and play programs and ongoing investments as a legacy of the 1984 Summer Olympics. Since her appointment in 2016, Simril has elevated the LA84 Foundation into a national leader in advocating for the role that sports plays in youth development. Simril also serves as president of the Board of Commissioners of the city of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks and a member of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Advisory Council on Physical Fitness and Mental Well-Being.

USC Alumni Awards: John Terzian
(Photo/Courtesy of John Terzian)

John Terzian ’02 is the co-founder and co-president of The h.wood Group, a Los Angeles-based hospitality and lifestyle marketing company with a portfolio of luxury nightlife and restaurant venues. Terzian is responsible for the creative development and concept design of each project, as well as for the company’s strategic, collaborative partnerships. He serves on the board of Imagine LA, a nonprofit mentorship program for the unhoused, as well as the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Sports and Entertainment Board. For years, The h.wood Group has participated in CHLA’s annual “Make March Matter” campaign, which unites businesses and community members in support of children’s health.

USC Alumni Awards: Young Alumni Merit Award

USC Alumni Awards: Rachel Scott
(Photo/Danny Weiss, ABC News)

Rachel Scott ’15 is the senior congressional correspondent for ABC News, reporting from Capitol Hill across all the network’s programs and platforms, including Good Morning America, World News Tonight with David Muir and 20/20. Scott’s first day covering Capitol Hill was Jan. 6, 2021, when she provided extensive live reports as the insurrection unfolded. Her Nightline report “The Appointment,” which documented the extraordinary lengths a young woman took to obtain an abortion, earned a Peabody Award. Scott also has received two Edward R. Murrow Awards, and in 2020 the National Association of Black Journalists named her Emerging Journalist of the Year.

USC Alumni Awards: Alumni Service Awards

USC Alumni Awards: Paula Ciaramitaro
(Photo/Courtesy of Paula Ciaramitaro)

Paula Ciaramitaro ’85 is a longtime member of the Trojan League of South Bay and Town & Gown of USC, and has held various leadership positions in both groups, including terms as president and CFO. She also served on the USC Alumni Association Board of Governors for six years and currently volunteers for USC Associates, the university’s premier academic giving society, as a member of the board of directors and co-chair of events. Ciaramitaro also volunteers as a student mentor and in 2015, she received a USC Alumni Association President’s Award in recognition of her service. 

USC Alumni Awards: John and Janine Colich
(Photo/Courtesy of John and Janine Colich)

John Colich ’71 — who competed as a Trojan shot putter from 1967 to 1971 — and Janine Boskovich Colich ’78 are passionate supporters of USC Athletics who have made an indelible impact on several of the department’s programs. In 2019, they provided the lead gift for the Colich Track and Field Center, which opened in 2021. More recently, the couple provided funding for the Colich Throwing Center at the South Bay Athletic Club; the world-class training center serves USC discus, hammer and shot-put throwers, as well as local youth. The Coliches also funded the David X. Marks Tennis Stadium’s enhanced weight room, a facility originally built by John’s father, Don Colich. In 2020, they received the Legend of Troy award.

The Coliches are members of the USC Associates, the USC Scholarship Club for Athletics and the USC Widney Society, which honors benefactors who have given or pledged $1 million or more. Additionally, Janine Boskovich Colich is a longtime member of the Trojan League of Los Angelesand the USC Caruso Catholic Center’s Newman Guild. 

This story was first published on April 15, 2024, and was updated on April 24 with details of Saturday’s gala.