Chan Family Gift Creates First Named, Endowed Occupational Therapy Program in Nation
The $20 million gift establishes an occupational therapy initiative in China and Florence Clark is installed as first holder of Mrs. T.H. Chan Professorship
by Jessica Raymond
USC Trustee Ronnie C. Chan MBA ’76 and his wife, Barbara, have dedicated $20 million to USC’s pioneering occupational science and occupational therapy program.
Given in honor of Chan’s mother, the gift endows and names the division, which will be known as the USC Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy. This is the first naming gift and the largest ever made to any occupational therapy program in the history of the field, according to the American Occupational Therapy Association.
The gift also extends the international reach of the division through the USC Mrs. T.H. Chan Occupational Therapy China Initiative, which will establish a partnership with a top Chinese university to develop a graduate program in occupational therapy in China. In addition, the gift endows the Mrs. T.H. Chan Professorship in Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy. Florence Clark, associate dean of the division, will be installed as the first holder of the professorship.
“For the past several decades, Ronnie and Barbara Chan have been stellar ambassadors for USC, particularly in the Pacific Rim, and their most recent gift reflects their long-standing commitment to the university,” said USC President C. L. Max Nikias. “This historic endowment gift ensures the USC Mrs. T.H. Chan Division’s prominence among the most elite programs in occupational science and occupational therapy, not just in the United States but throughout the world.”
Chan is the chairman of Hang Lung Group Limited and its subsidiary, Hang Lung Properties Limited, which stands among Hong Kong’s leading property companies. He also co-founded the Morningside Group, a privately held investment firm that owns and manages industrial and service companies throughout the United States and Asia.
A member of the USC Board of Trustees since 1995, Chan established the USC Hong Kong Alumni Association and supported construction of the USC International Residential College, a center for global education and interaction. A leader in the effort to raise funds for the International Plaza at the Ronald Tutor Campus Center, Chan rallied USC alumni in Asia and donated toward the plaza’s building fund.
The university honored Chan’s extensive contributions and dedication with the 2009 Asa V. Call Achievement Award, USC’s most prestigious alumni award.
With two sons who graduated from USC, the Chans are also proud Trojan parents. Adriel received his bachelor’s degree in international relations in 2004. Adley earned his bachelor’s degree in sociology, as well as bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees in occupational therapy. He recently joined the division as a clinical faculty member.
“My family and I are pleased to provide a third major gift to USC — in this case to support the cutting-edge work of the most influential division of occupational science and occupational therapy in the world and to honor my mother who worked for many years as a nurse,” Chan said. “I am grateful for the opportunities that USC afforded me and my sons, and our gift to the division is one of several ways we intend to continue supporting USC in the future.”
The gift represents a significant milestone for the division, which has accumulated a long list of firsts since occupational therapy education began at USC in 1942. The division established the nation’s first two-year, entry-level master’s degree program in occupational therapy and first post-professional degree program in occupational therapy. It is also internationally renowned for establishing the world’s first Ph.D. program in occupational science. Since U.S. News & World Report began ranking occupational therapy educational programs in 1998, USC has held the No. 1 spot for 12 years — more years than all other programs combined.
Occupational therapy is a health care profession focused on enabling people to decrease their risk of or better manage chronic disease and disability through sustainable, health-promoting activities and routines in order to live happier and more productive lives. Occupational therapists work with populations across the life span in various settings, including hospitals, nursing facilities, community clinics, schools, private practices, corporations and wellness centers.
“USC has long been a pioneer in occupational science and occupational therapy, exemplified by the visionary leadership of Professor Florence Clark,” said Avishai Sadan, dean of the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC, which houses the division. “Her appointment as the Mrs. T.H. Chan Professor in Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy stands in testament to her decades of remarkable contributions and groundbreaking work.”
Clark noted that the Chans’ support ensures the division will continue leading the profession in education, research and clinical programs.
“With the extraordinary resources provided by this gift,” Clark said, “we can nurture clinicians and scientists who will dramatically influence practice and research and create innovative ways of improving quality of life around the world.”
Self-Care Among Latinos with Diabetes Studied
Elizabeth Pyatak seeks ways to make health an everyday habit for teens and young adults
by Paul Karon
USC occupational scientist and occupational therapist Elizabeth Pyatak helps young people with diabetes adopt the self-care habits and protocols recommended by their physicians.
In a vote of confidence, the National Institutes of Health has given the assistant professor a three-year, $450,000 grant to conduct a clinical study of a health-related lifestyle intervention targeting Los Angeles Latinos in their teens and 20s.
Set to begin this fall, the study will build upon early stage research that Pyatak conducted as a KL2 scholar in the Southern California Clinical and Translational Science Institute (SC CTSI).
AOTA President to Deliver White Coat Keynote
American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) President Virginia “Ginny” Stoffel PhD, OT, BCMH, FAOTA is the scheduled keynote speaker at the 2014 White Coat Ceremony of the USC Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, an annual event designed to celebrate new students’ induction into the professional community of occupational therapists.
The 2014 White Coat Ceremony will be held August 29 from 5:00–6:00pm on the Broad Lawn, south of the Center for the Health Professions building on the USC Health Sciences Campus.
Stoffel is an associate professor in the Department of Occupational Science and Technology at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. She earned her PhD degree in Leadership for the Advancement of Learning and Service from Cardinal Stritch University in 2007, her master’s degree in Educational Psychology from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee in 1983 and her bachelor’s degree in occupational therapy from St. Catherine University in 1977. Her expertise and interests centers on the strengths and needs of people with serious mental illness living in the community, the occupational nature of people with substance use disorders and evidence-based practices regarding behavioral change including issues related to substance use, misuse, abuse and dependence. She is a proponent and practitioner of the “servant leadership” model of ethical and caring leadership, is board certified in mental health and is a Fellow of the American Occupational Therapy Association.
USC Alumna’s Surfing Program for Veterans Featured in AJOT Study
USC alumna Carly Rogers MA ‘04, OTD ‘11 is the lead author of a new article, High-Intensity Sports for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Depression: Feasibility Study of Ocean Therapy With Veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, published in the July/August 2014 issue of the American Journal of Occupational Therapy.
Rogers has been utilizing ocean therapy since her time in the master’s program at USC, and surfing has always been her personal passion. In this study, she and her team conducted a pretest–posttest investigation of a sports-oriented occupational therapy intervention using surfing in an experiential, skills-based program to support veterans with symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in their transition to civilian life. The study finds that for some veterans, surfing is having a healing effect that can help to alleviate both PTSD and depression symptoms.
Learn more about the surfing program by listening to the AOTA Everyday Evidence podcast.
Occupational Therapy Student Named 2014-15 Albert Schweitzer Fellow
Master’s student Alyssa Concha MA ‘14 has been named one of 15 Los Angeles-area recipients of the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship. In partnership with Esperanza Community Housing Corporation, Concha will be designing and implementing training resources to support Promotores de Salud [promoters of health].
Promotores address a variety of community health issues including environmental health, lead poisoning prevention, allergies and asthma, prenatal care, early childhood development and access to health services. The goal of Concha’s supplemental training is to supplement Promotores’ skills and resources to better deliver peer advocacy and education within the community.
The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship supports university graduate students to improve the health and well-being of vulnerable populations. Fellows partner with a community-based organization to identify an unmet health need, design a 200-hour service project with a demonstrable impact, and move the project from conception to implementation.