Norris Foundation Chair Harlyne J. Norris is lauded 
by USC President Steven B. Sample.

 

Monument to Possibility

USC breaks ground on the Harlyne J. Norris Cancer Research Tower

by Monika Guttman

The USC Trojan Marching Band played as dozens of white doves took wing. A crowd of more than 250 USC/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center supporters clapped and cheered.

But the heavy lifting was done by Harlyne J. Norris, chair of the Kenneth T. & Eileen L. Norris Foundation, Bill Corey, M.D., a lifelong friend of Kenneth T. Norris Jr. and Norris Foundation board member, USC President Steven B. Sample, Peter Jones, Ph.D., director of USC/Norris, and Keck School Dean Stephen J. Ryan, M.D. They donned hardhats and gripped shovels to break ground on the new Harlyne J. Norris Cancer Research Tower on June 13.

The groundbreaking celebration for the 190,000-square-foot cancer research facility took place on the future site of the building, in what is now a parking lot at the corner of Biggy Street and Eastlake Avenue. Under the shade of tents, guests heard how the state-of-the-art facility will provide much-needed space for conducting innovative cancer research.

“This eight-story building dedicated primarily to research will more than double the laboratory space at USC/Norris,” Jones said. “It will help us to carry on the vision Kenneth Norris Jr. had 30 years ago, when he said, ‘My goal is to make cancer a disease of the past.’”

As recent headlines have noted, Jones said, “the big push is toward non-toxic therapies. Soon, many new treatments will be literally like taking an aspirin every day. The research will discover new ways of extending life.”

Building plans call for five floors devoted to basic research, two floors for preventive medicine, an atrium with attached lobby, a conference center and a landscaped courtyard.

Jones announced that, thanks to a $10 million gift, the conference center will be named in honor of Catherine and Joseph Aresty (see story, page 6). “This conference center is very critical, because it will allow us to communicate with each other and also provide community outreach,” he said.

Ryan called the tower a “monument to possibility,” noting that “this new space will put us at the top levels of cancer discovery in a golden era of biological research.” The tower, he said, “is about people—people like you who support these efforts, people who will be attracted to work here, people who make a difference.”

President Sample praised Harlyne Norris’ dedication to the university and the new tower, saying it will provide “a living testament to Harlyne’s support of research that has a direct effect on the lives of patients, their families and their communities.”

Ever since her husband Kenneth T. Norris Jr. died in 1996, Harlyne Norris has contributed significantly to the cancer center, Sample said. She serves on the Norris Cancer Hospital Board, is a dedicated member of the USC Board of Trustees and is the “heart and spirit behind the new tower.”

The Norris Foundation provided the $15 million lead gift for the new building.

Through its foundation, the Norris family has given more than $40 million to USC, naming the Kenneth Norris Jr. Cancer Hospital, the Eileen L. Norris Cinema Theater, the Norris Dental Center, the Norris Medical Library and the Norris Auditorium, said Sample.

Kenneth T. Norris Jr., a former USC trustee, also was instrumental in funding the Dr. Norman Topping Tower at USC/Norris. In addition, following Kenneth Norris Jr.’s death, the foundation named two endowed chairs in his honor, one in cancer prevention and one in medicine.

In honor of Harlyne Norris’ continuing support, Sample presented her with a painting of the tower as it will appear when built.

Norris thanked Sample for the painting, noting that her greatest hope is that the work accomplished in the tower “really makes Ken’s dream of an end to cancer come true.” She laughed as the Trojan Marching Band then broke into a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday,” honoring the fact that the day was also her birthday.

To accommodate the many supporters of the new tower, a brunch was served before the groundbreaking ceremony and a luncheon held afterward.

At the luncheon, Jones presented paintings to Harlyne Norris Tower supporters Lauren Nungessor, who represented her parents Allene and Kendall Nungessor, Mrs. Lam Yau Jong, Gary Nunnelly, Janet Kelley, who represented the Rollie R. Kelley Foundation, and David and Grace Cushion.

The tower will be the third building in the USC/Norris Cancer Center complex and is expected to be completed in 2006.

The Topping Tower opened

its doors in 1996, and the initial building, which launched the Kenneth Norris Jr. Cancer Hospital and Research Institute, opened 20 years ago in 1983.

 

RELATED STORY:

An artist’s rendering of the completed Catherine 
and Joseph Aresty Conference Center.

Aresty Gift of $10 Million funds Construction and Endowment

New conference center will be located in the Harlyne J. Norris Cancer Research Tower

Joseph and Catherine Aresty, longtime supporters of the USC/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and Hospital and the Keck School of Medicine, have made a new gift of $10 million to assist in the construction

of a conference center within the Harlyne J. Norris Cancer Research Tower.

The Catherine and Joseph Aresty Conference Center will be located where the Harlyne J. Norris Cancer Research Tower and the existing Topping Tower meet and will consist of a 200-seat auditorium and four conference rooms.

The gift will also be used to fund an endowment to support the Catherine and Joseph Aresty Department of Urology, a department that was renamed two years ago in recognition of the couple’s earlier largess.

To date, the Arestys have given more than $20.6 million to the university. Their previous contributions have funded an endowed chair in urologic research, a urologic cancer research laboratory and an endowment to support the research of a senior scientist, as well as discretionary funds for the chair of the Department of Urology.

The couple’s association with USC/Norris and the Department of Urology goes back to 1994, when Joseph Aresty sought treatment from Donald G. Skinner, M.D., professor and chair of the department and the Hanson-White Chair in Medical Research.

Peter Jones, Ph.D., USC/Norris Cancer Center director, praised the Arestys’ generosity as “crucial to the Norris’ efforts.”

“Their continuing support has been truly remarkable—and this most recent gift underscores once again the depth of their commitment to helping the Norris achieve its vision for the future and to bolster the fight against cancer.”