USC Honors Distinguished Alumni

Left to right: Patrick Auerbach, associate vice president of alumni relations; alumni honorees Jerry Neely, Linda Givvin, Mark Ridley-Thomas, Frank Fertitta III, and Rebecca Soni; USC President C. L. Max Nikias; alumni honorees Barbara Cotler and Geraldine Knatz; USC Alumni Association President Mitchell Lew.

The University of Southern California honored the accomplishments and service of notable alumni at its 80th Annual USC Alumni Awards in late April. Notable alumni from a range of industries and locations joined 600 alumni and friends in the ballroom at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in downtown Los Angeles to recognize outstanding accomplishments.

Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas, who received his doctorate in social ethics and policy analysis in 1989, was one of those honored for his three decades in public service and the work he has done on behalf of children, workers and minorities in California. Other honorees included Geraldine Knatz, executive director of the Port of Los Angeles, who was honored with the Alumni Merit Award and three alumni were honored for their outstanding commitment and service to the university: Jerry Neely, a USC Trustee and mentor at the USC Marshall School of Business; Linda Givvin, a member of the USC Alumni Association Board of Governors; and Barbara Cotler, a member of the USC Athletics board of counselors.

Six time Olympic swimming medalist, Rebecca Soni, who won two gold medals and a silver medal at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, was honored with the Young Alumni Merit award. USC Trustee Frank Fertitta II was honored with the Asa V. Call Alumni Achievement Award. Fertitta is founder and principal owner of Suffra LLC, owning and operating the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). In 2001, Fertitta and his brother, Lorenzo, purchased the UFC and transformed the organization into a highly successful global sports enterprise that is now the largest live pay-per-view content provider in the world. Fertitta is also chairman and CEO of Las Vegas-based Fertitta Entertainment, a resort and casino development and management company, and of Station Casinos, one of the largest gaming companies in the United States.

“I am humbled by this honor,” said Ridley-Thomas. “USC is not only my alma mater, but an asset to all of Los Angeles and an integral part of our community. Fight on!”

Since 1932, the USC Alumni Association has paid tribute to distinguished USC Alumni. Past honorees have included Neil Armstrong, Warren Christopher, Taylor Hackford, David L. Wolper, Art Buchwald, Michael Landon, Lisa Leslie, Robert Zemeckis and Drew Pinsky.