Philanthropy: Alan Casden gives USC $10.6 million

Gift will benefit Institute for Study of Jewish Role in American Life, dean’s chair at Leventhal School and create a major real estate forecast at Lusk Center

Photo by Michele A.H. Smith
Beverly Hills real estate developer Alan I. Casden has donated $10.6 million to USC. The gift will be used to:

o Endow the Alan Casden Dean’s Chair at the USC Leventhal School of Accounting.

o Create a major real estate forecast study within the USC Lusk Center

for Real Estate.

o Endow the Casden Institute for the Study of the Jewish Role in American Life and its directorship.

Casden, whose company is one of the nation’s largest developers of residential property, is a member of the USC board of trustees. His gift mirrors his own interests in business and humanitarian endeavors.

His endowment of the dean’s chair in accounting acknowledges the roots of his business career, which began when he graduated cum laude from the USC Leventhal School in 1968.

The gift to support the Lusk Center will be used primarily to establish an annual real estate economics forecast that will measure the health of Southern California real estate and predict the market’s directions. The Casden Real Estate Economics Forecast will include economic indicators, statistics and other market factors for the area, tracking both residential and non-residential real estate. The Lusk Center, whose students and faculty conduct real estate research, is operated jointly by the Marshall School of Business and the School of Policy, Planning, and Development.

A major portion of the gift will be used to support USC’s three-year-old Institute for the Study of Jews in American Life, which has fostered scholarship on the important position of Jews in American society, particularly in the West. Renamed, the Casden Institute for the Study of the Jewish Role in American Life will serve as a focal point for enhancing respect and mutual understanding among Jews and others of all faiths and creeds throughout the world.

Casden has long maintained an interest in the role that Jews play in their communities and in American and world society.

"USC has a tradition of promoting diversity and tolerance," said Casden. "As the university’s participation in the scholarly study of the 150 years of Jewish leadership in the building of the West intensifies, we will gain a much clearer picture of that history and its implications for the evolution of the Western United States in the 21st century. I am grateful to be able to contribute to the growth of that knowledge."

Casden has been widely honored by government and civic organizations in Los Angeles, across the nation and in Israel. Los Angeles County gave him its Leadership Award for his efforts in pioneering low-income housing, and the city of Los Angeles presented him with its Beautification Award. His projects have won awards for excellence in building and design, among them the Malibu Canyon project and HillCrest Apartments in Los Angeles, and Indian Hills, a 900-home development in Simi Valley.

Named a "Friend of Jerusalem" for service to the International Committee for the Jerusalem 3000 celebration, Casden is co-chair of the board of trustees of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, an international human rights agency with an American constituency of 450,000 families. He was instrumental in creating the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles in 1993, and serves on the boards of Yeshiva University in Los Angeles and Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

"This is a magnificent gift for USC and all Americans – especially for those of us who live in Southern California," said USC President Steven B. Sample. "Alan Casden has been a creative force in the areas embraced by this gift and has made a significant contribution throughout our region. We are grateful to him for his generosity and proud of him as a member of USC’s Trojan family. "Casden is a member of the Beverly Hills Construction Project advisory committee and advisory boards of the National Multi-Family Housing Conference, Urban Land Institute and the California Senate Advisory Commission on Cost Control in State Government. His company, Casden Properties Inc., is located in Beverly Hills.

A Southern California native, Casden is on the board of visitors of the Marshall School and has served on the board of advisors of the School of Accounting, which honored him in 1988 with its Distinguished Alumnus Award.