The University of Southern California has announced a $52 million gift to its School of Engineering from Andrew J. Viterbi, an engineer who co-founded wireless technology company Qualcomm, and his wife, Erna. In recognition of the gift, the school will be named after the couple.
The Viterbis' gift — the largest ever to an existing school of engineering — moves the school past the $150 million mark in a $300 million campaign designed to build its endowment and recruit faculty. Viterbi himself plans to join the faculty as a professor of electrical engineering systems and will hold the Presidential Chair of Engineering. A USC alumnus who received his Ph.D. in 1962, he is best known for developing the Viterbi Algorithm in the late 1960s. The algorithm allows rapid and accurate decoding of a multitude of overlapping signals and is used around the world to allow cellphones to communicate without interfering with each other.
"We are deeply grateful to Andrew and Erna Viterbi for this extraordinary gift, which will forever associate USC's engineering school with one of the most illustrious engineering names of our times," said USC president Steven B. Sample. "As an academic, an entrepreneur, a corporate leader, an alumnus of this university, and a member of our Board of Trustees, Andrew Viterbi has demonstrated intellectual dexterity, creativity, and spirit in every arena."