$7 Million Gift will create new institute

What a wonderful day! I am so glad to be here to share this special occasion with Gerry Sue and Norman.  Back in 1998, when I accepted the position as the new Dean of the School of Public Health, I had no idea that one of the university’s greatest benefactors would soon become one of my dearest friends.   

Today’s $7 million gift, which will create The Gerry Sue and Norman J. Arnold Institute on Aging, will help us advance age-related science, which is important for each and every one of us. 

Norman and Gerry Sue honored the existing USC School of Public Health with one of the larger gifts in the university’s history.  And because of the Arnold’s generosity and vision, the newly named Arnold School of Public Health was on the map in a bigger way. 

Other deans of Public Health started asking me, “Who is Norman Arnold? How did he come to respect and believe in Public Health?  And “What’s his phone number?” 

The first two questions were easy to answer.  I told them that Norman Arnold was many things…a man of humble stock whose dad, through brains and hard work, developed a successful business; a man who, earlier in his life than he had planned or wanted to, had to take over his dad’s business when his father passed away far too early; man whose support and generosity was expressed passionately to groups that included the Boys and Girls Club of the Midlands, various Jewish community projects in the city of Columbia and the state, and others; a man who had a brush with serious illness, no let’s call it what it was, a brush with death and, through a dogged determination to live and by adopting a nutritional philosophy that some thought was beyond the fringe of traditional medicine, he survived. 

On November 21, 2000, when Norman spoke at the dedication of the school, he told of how he came “perilously close to dying with some accumulated wealth” and then explained that he learned some basic truths, “not the least of which is the ultimate value of good health and loved ones…but also that dying with accumulated wealth is like burning up a diamond to prove you had one. It’s a good story to tell, but you’re still left with something pretty worthless.”

Those were his words 14 years, 11 months and 23 days ago. He added that he saw a much better use for wealth – for the betterment of society through the fundamental mission of public health in creating a healthy community.

Norman’s phone number, by the way, I never gave out. 

May we for the first time today acknowledge the Arnolds. Thank you Gerry Sue and Norman. 

In the years since the School of Public Health became the Arnold School of Public Health, we have recruited better scientists, attracted more research funding, saw our Exercise Science program soar to the top spot in the country, and exceeded many other expectations. But, more than anything, the school has had an immensely greater impact on the students educated here and the many communities served by this school.  There is no doubt that—especially my public health colleagues here today will agree—that we would consider those causal relationships. 

Today’s $7 million gift, which will create The Gerry Sue and Norman J. Arnold Institute on Aging, will help us advance age-related science, which is important for each and every one of us. 

May we for the first time today acknowledge the Arnolds. Thank you Gerry Sue and Norman. 

One of the best examples of this change that I’ve been talking about is Professor Julius Fridriksson.  A leading expert in stroke recovery, Julius has changed the way we treat stroke survivors and through his research has brought in more than $10 million to the school. I am sure than Norman and Gerry Sue would agree that Julius epitomizes the caliber we seek in our research scientists at the Norman J. Arnold School of Public Health.

 Julius….