LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The University of Southern California broke ground on a new education building Wednesday, a move made possibly by a generous donation from a distinguished alumna.
Dr. Verna Dauterive spoke with CBS2’s Pat Harvey about her strong sense of school pride and how it began on the campus in the 1940s.
The 89-year-old Trojan reminisced as she walked through USC’s Doheny Library, where she studied on scholarship for her master’s and doctorate in education in 1943.
It’s also where Dauterive met her husband of 53 years.
“He walked over and said, ‘Oh, my name is Peter Dauterive, what might be your name?’ And, I said, ‘Oh, my name, I’d be anything.’ And, he said, ‘Oh, Ms. Anything. All right, Ms. Anything, I’m very pleased to meet you.'”
Dauterive said the two attended USC during times of segregation, when ethnic diversity was something you rarely saw among students and faculty.
“It was just a different time. On the other hand, though, there was a warm caring feeling here at USC. They welcomed me here. I had professors who took a special interest,” the alumna said.
She felt like she belonged at USC – so much so that she went on to get her graduate degrees at the school and became a highly-respected educator.
Dauterive said USC introduced her husband to leaders in the banking business.
“The biggest thing that they did, once he did graduate; they were the ones who did get him his first job at Broadway Federal Savings,” she said.
The couple became USC success stories, but always remained devoted and committed to furthering the excellence of their alma mater throughout the years.
“The Rossier School, the school of education, that’s my school. And, we said, ‘Why aren’t there any black professors?’ And, they said, ‘Well, we can’t find any. We looked around.’ And, I suppose, back in that day, maybe that was a challenge. But, we thought, ‘Well, we’ll do a scholarship,'” Dauterive said.
In 2008, Dr. Dauterive donated $30 million to USC, in her husband’s memory. He passed away in 2002. The money will go toward building the Verna and Peter Dauterive Hall, which will serve as a center for research and teaching.
On Wednesday, officials broke ground on the dream she and her husband spent years working toward.
Dauterive said that she hopes the students put their investment to good use.
“I want them to come with an open mind, to avail themselves of all the beauty of all the resources that this campus has to offer. That is my dream,” Dauterive said.
Harvey asked the generous alumna, “If your husband was alive today, how do you think he would feel?”
“I think he would say to me: Job well done. You finished what we planned to do together… So proud of you, Ms. Anything,” said Dauterive, laughing.
USC’s president said the Verna and Peter Dauterive Hall will forever stand in testament to the couple’s visionary philanthropy and longstanding dedication to the university.