USC is given $25 mil­lion

Rick Caruso makes the do­na­tion af­ter the uni­ver­sity helps his daugh­ter’s hear­ing.

Los Angeles Times - - THE STATE - By Larry Gor­don larry.gor­don@la­times.com Twit­ter: @lar­ry­gor­don­lat

Los An­ge­les de­vel­oper Rick Caruso re­calls the emo­tional mo­ment last year af­ter USC doc­tors in­serted a new hear­ing de­vice into his daugh­ter’s ear canal.

The teenager, who had strug­gled with mild to mod­er­ate hear­ing loss since birth, sud­denly started cry­ing be­cause of the clar­ity of the sound around her.

Gianna Caruso, now 15, had re­lied on ex­ter­nal hear­ing aids most of her life and had learned to read lips.

With the new in­ter­nal de­vice, known as a Lyric hear­ing aid, she heard sub­tle sounds such as wa­ter gush­ing in a foun­tain or the chirp of a dis­tant bird, her fa­ther said.

That ex­pe­ri­ence inf lu­enced him and his wife, Tina, to do­nate $25 mil­lion to the depart­ment at USC’s Keck School of Medicine that treats ear, nose, throat, head and neck prob­lems and a re­lated clinic that aids chil­dren with hear­ing loss.

“We want to be able to give more kids an op­por­tu­nity for a very full and rich life and to min­i­mize the strug­gles that come with hear­ing loss,” said Caruso, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the firm that de­vel­oped the Grove in Los An­ge­les and the Amer­i­cana at Brand in Glen­dale, and that is work­ing on a new luxury re­sort to re­place the for­mer Mi­ra­mar Ho­tel in Mon­tecito.

Caruso is a USC alum­nus and has been on the school’s board of trustees since 2007.

He pre­vi­ously gave the uni­ver­sity $10 mil­lion, in­clud­ing the lead gift to build the church and cen­ter for Catholic stu­dents that opened in 2012.

Two of his sons have grad­u­ated from USC, a third at­tends there now and Gianna hopes to be­come a Tro­jan too, he said.

The Depart­ment of Oto­laryn­gol­ogy-Head and Neck Surgery treats can­cer, thy­roid dis­or­ders, fa­cial paral­y­sis, hear­ing loss and other health prob­lems.

The af­fil­i­ated Cen­ter for Child­hood Com­mu­ni­ca­tions treats more than 5,000 chil­dren a year with cochlear im­plants, speech ther­apy and other as­sis­tance for hear­ing loss.

Both the depart­ment and the clinic will be named af­ter the Caru­sos.

John K. Ni­parko, the depart­ment chair­man, said in a state­ment that the Caruso gift will help ex­pand ser­vices to chil­dren and bol­ster re­search into such ar­eas as stem cell ther­a­pies that might re­verse hear­ing loss.

“Early in­ter­ven­tion is crit­i­cal to en­sure that chil­dren with hear­ing loss de­velop their speech and lan­guage skills,” he said.

The uni­ver­sity is in the midst of a ma­jor cam­paign seek­ing to raise $6 bil­lion by 2018; it has re­ceived more than $4.2 bil­lion so far, of­fi­cials said.

Liz O. Baylen Los An­ge­les Times

“WE WANT to … min­i­mize the strug­gles that come with hear­ing loss,” Rick Caruso says.

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