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Dr. Verna B. Dauterive bestows $25 million to USC

Shirley Hawkins | 4/23/2008, 5 p.m.

Dr. Verna B. Dauterive, M. Ed., Ed.D, 85, an alumna of the University of California class of 1947, has pledged $25 million to the university in the memory of her late husband who passed away in 2002.
Peter W. Dauterive enrolled at USC under the GI Bill after serving in the U.S. Army during World War II. He graduated from the USC Marshall School of Business near the top of his class, and USC secured a placement for him at Broadway Federal Savings and Loan Association where he served as executive vice president and managing officer. After earning a master's degree in executive management from the University of Indiana, Dauterive went on to become the founding president and CEO of Founders Savings and Loan Association.
A savvy businessman, Peter Dauterive invested in stocks, apartment buildings and oil drilling projects, which helped the Dauterives to amass a sizable fortune.
USC officials said that a portion of the donation will be used to fund scholarships.
"This is a history-making gift," said USC President Steven B. Sample. "It is the largest ever made by an African American to a U. S. institution of higher learning. We are tremendously grateful to Dr. Verna Dauterive-an alumna who personified excellence in her professional and civic life-honoring her alma mater in this way....Through the generosity of Verna, and her late husband, Peter, this university will be significantly strengthened for many, many years to come."
It was the late 1940s when Verna Burch was busy doing homework on her masters degree in education in the Doheny Memorial Library basement when Peter W. Dauterive, one of the few African Americans on campus, strolled over and struck up a conversation.
The two found out that they had a lot in common-not only did they share a fondness for USC, but both were transplants from segregated Louisiana and had migrated to Los Angeles to pursue their educations.
Dauterive said that although the two were among the few blacks at USC in the late '40s and early '50s, and they experienced no overt prejudice. "There as a friendliness there...We made a point to be involved and we were welcomed there," she said.
Love blossomed and the two married. Verna Dauterive joined the Los Angels Unified School District, where she taught for 62 years. She served as the principal of Franklin Avenue Elementary School from 1982 until she retired in 2005.
"USC has a great light on this earth and that light has been very bright on our pathways and our careers," recalls Dauterive. "It was very meaningful to both my husband and me because it had the greatest influence on our careers and life in general."
University officials estimate that the gift is the largest single donation from an African American to a U.S. college or university, although Bill and Camille Cosby pledged $20 million to Spelman College in 1987 and George Lucas and his LucasFilm foundation donated $175 million to USC's cinema school.
Dauterive, who along with her husband was a co-founding member of USC's Black Alumni Association, was honored Saturday with the Founder's Award at the annual Black Alumni Association dinner.
"The Black Alumni Association is truly excited about her gift," said Michelle Turner, director of the Office of Black Alumni at USC. "It will be a tremendous legacy for the university and we are very proud that one of our founders can steward the university in this manner."