By Mike McNulty

The USC Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy announced its entry into the Campaign for the University of Southern California on April 27 before a capacity crowd of over 400 Trojans gathered at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront hotel ballroom.

The kickoff celebration, scheduled to coincide with the annual conference of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), included live entertainment, a video presentation, and a toast from Associate Dean and Chair Florence Clark.

“USC has an undeniable legacy of leadership to the profession of occupational therapy, and we are the founders of the occupational science discipline,” Clark said. “This Campaign will take USC occupational science and occupational therapy to an even higher level, and I am so excited to have the entire Trojan Family join together in this unprecedented adventure.”

Occupational Therapy Chair Florence Clark announces the initiative at an April 27 kickoff event in San Diego.

Occupational Therapy Chair Florence Clark announces the initiative at an April 27 kickoff event in San Diego.

The division’s $6 million campaign goal is believed to be the largest in the history of occupational therapy higher education.

Primary giving objectives include faculty recruitment and retention, research initiatives, student scholarships and fellowships, infrastructure improvements, and patient care programming.

Clark, who completes her term as AOTA president later this year, also recognized Board of Councilors members in the audience, commended them for their investments and offered examples of USC’s leadership to the profession. U.S. News & World Report currently ranks the division as the nation’s No. 1 occupational therapy graduate educational program. USC has held this top spot for more years than all other programs combined.

Clark was welcomed to the stage by occupational therapy doctoral student John Lien Margetis, who spoke about his personal experiences.

“Occupational therapy helped me learn how to talk about my disability in a way that made sense to me, as a child back then,” said Margetis, who was born without hands or feet and had been a consumer of occupational therapy services throughout his early life. “It helped me seamlessly integrate my disability into my identity as a person, and now, as a clinician.”

The campaign announcement comes as the division concludes a year of celebrating the 70th anniversary of USC occupational therapy education, which was founded in 1942 in response to the nation’s demand for clinicians to rehabilitate active and veteran military personnel injured during World War II.

“USC has always been about creating leaders, shaping the profession and building better lives,” said Board of Councilors Chairperson Linda Florey. “It’s amazing to think that now is perhaps the most exciting time in our distinguished history.”