$50 million gift commitment establishes The Ronald and Leslie Sherwin Initiative for environmental protection at USC Dornsife

Pioneering initiative aims to unite diverse academic disciplines for ecosystem conservation.

The USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences today announced a landmark $50 million gift commitment by Ronald and Leslie Sherwin. When funded, the gift will establish the Ronald and Leslie Sherwin Initiative, which will focus on protecting the environment through research, education, and practice. It’s the largest single commitment to date to support USC’s environmental initiatives, a top priority for USC President Carol L. Folt.

“We’re grateful to Ron and Leslie Sherwin for their commitment to environmental sustainability efforts at USC,” Folt said. “Our Assignment Earth initiatives are having tangible results, including eliminating single-use plastic bottles and moving 25% of our electricity to renewable energy sources. This transformative gift ensures USC Dornsife will attract innovative leaders dedicated to creating a sustainable future.”

Ron and Leslie Sherwin, native Angelenos, are nature lovers who believe in the promise of research across academic disciplines to help protect the planet. Their previous gifts to USC Dornsife include a $1 million student research support fund.

“What’s important to me is that this gift will promote interdisciplinary research tied to environmental issues,” said Ron Sherwin, president of Sherwin Inc. “It’s going to take many academic disciplines working together to help protect our environment, including psychology, spatial sciences, political science … even philosophy. So, giving to USC Dornsife, which includes all of those as well as the Wrigley Institute for Environment and Sustainability, just makes sense.”

When fully funded, the Sherwin Initiative will be the second largest gift to USC Dornsife after the naming gift from Dana and David Dornsife in 2011. It will fund 10 USC Dornsife faculty chairs focused on ecosystem conservation, half of whom will have research expertise related to ecosystem diversity and species preservation, including everything from coral reef restoration to the development of alternative fuels. The other half will have expertise in the many human factors associated with environmental protection, including environmental economics, behavorial science and political science.

This initiative will also fund research, educational programs, graduate fellowships, conferences and related activities.

“This generous gift will have a profound and lasting impact on USC Dornsife’s ability to address the critical challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss,” said USC Dornsife Dean Amber D. Miller. “By supporting endowed faculty chairs, research, and educational programming, the Sherwin Initiative will not only establish Dornsife as a leader in ecosystem conservation, but also inspire the next generation of environmental champions who will shape a sustainable future for our planet.”

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