Continuing a family tradition that spans six decades, USC Trustee Jane Hoffman Popovich BS ’65 and her husband, J. Kristoffer Popovich BS ’65 MBA ’70, have pledged $4 million to create the Jane and Kris Popovich Chair in Cancer Research at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The couple’s gift is a new chapter of generosity and support in the family’s long history of giving to the university. Directed from the Hoffman Foundation, the gift will create an endowed faculty chair to advance cancer research on the center’s greatest priorities in basic and translational research.

“After 60 years of research, we’re still looking for cures to all cancers,” Kris Popovich said. “We hope this gift will spur progress toward a much-needed breakthrough.”

Jane Popovich’s parents, H. Leslie and Elaine Stevely Hoffman, created the Hoffman Foundation in the 1950s, contributing millions of dollars to the campaign supporting USC’s Master Plan, and more toward construction of the Elaine Stevely Hoffman Medical Research Center and the H. Leslie Hoffman Hall of Business Administration.

Following in her parents’ footsteps, they continued the tradition through their lead gift of $5 million to build Jane Hoffman Popovich and J. Kristoffer Popovich Hall, home of USC Marshall’s MBA programs, which opened in 1999. The couple later donated an additional $5 million to establish the Popovich Family Scholarship Fund. Including this latest gift for cancer research, their lifetime giving to the university totals $20 million.

“The Popoviches’ latest gift to USC Norris demonstrates the breadth of their philanthropy, as well as their commitment to helping our university advance its mission to more effectively treat — and eventually eradicate — cancer,” said USC President C. L. Max Nikias. “For six decades, Jane and Kris Popovich have been passionate supporters of their alma mater, and the USC Marshall School would not be the business education leader it is today without their exceptional generosity and guidance.”

Both natives of San Marino, California, the couple met in business school and married shortly after graduation. Today they are successful business owners and entrepreneurs. Kris operated Hoffman Video Systems, spun off in the 1970s from his father-in-law’s company, Hoffman Electronics. Jane owned and operated several clothing stores, including her own boutique, Flutter, Helly Hansen stores in Newport Beach, California, and San Francisco, and a retail catalog for more than 20 years.

The couple lends their time as well as their resources to the university and its business school and students. Like her father before her, Jane Popovich serves on the USC Board of Trustees, a position she has held since 1983. She is the president of USC Associates Board of Directors, and serves with her husband on the USC Marshall Board of Leaders. She also has served on the board of Women of Troy and was involved with Town and Gown and its Junior Auxiliary.

Kris Popovich was instrumental in the formation of a board of directors for the USC Associates, and later served as the group’s president. In addition to membership on the USC Marshall Board of Leaders, he has led the fundraising efforts of the school as development chair.

Cancer research is a major focus of the Popoviches’ charitable giving and involvement, and a 1995 gift from the Hoffman Foundation endowed the H. Leslie Hoffman and Elaine S. Hoffman Chair in Cancer Research at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. In addition, Kris has served as a member of the board of councilors of the Keck School of Medicine and was also involved with the Norris Cancer Research Associates. They also are major supporters of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and other causes, along with their three daughters and sons-in-law, Kimberly and Robert Shepherd, Tricia and Michael Fink, and Jennifer BA ’96 and Christopher Allen MBA ‘09.

Jane Popovich, who shares her parents’ conviction that personal philanthropy is key to community growth, added, “I’m proud to follow in my parents’ tradition of giving back to the USC community. I hope to preserve their memory and legacy through gifts such as this, as well as by staying involved.”

Stephen Gruber, director of USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, praised the Popoviches for their generosity.

“Jane and Kris Popovich understand the importance of investing in translational research, which is key to bringing the knowledge generated through basic science to the patient’s bedside,” said Gruber, who holds the Hoffman Chair in Cancer Research. “Thanks to their generosity, USC Norris can support outstanding faculty who will be able to develop innovative care that will benefit cancer patients. We are deeply honored and grateful for this gift.”

The Popoviches’ gift supports the Campaign for the University of Southern California, a multi-year effort that seeks to raise $6 billion or more in private philanthropy to advance USC’s academic priorities and expand its positive impact on the community and world. Four years after its launch, the campaign has raised more than $4.3 billion.

— Lynn Lipinski