He Had a 2.6 GPA and $1 for Lunch. Nearly 50 Years Later, He’s Helping Support Three USC Schools
As a high school senior in 1968, Patrick Fuscoe was faced with a watershed decision: go to college or go to work.
“Living in Torrance, a bluecollar town, half of my friends became cops, firemen, tennis coaches and lifeguards,” Fuscoe said. “A high school diploma was the end of a lot of people’s formal education back then, and that’s how I saw myself.”
But Fuscoe’s parents decided for him — “You’re going to college” — making him the first in his family to do so. He was accepted to both UCLA and USC, but Patrick chose USC, thanks to his father’s opinion that USC had a better engineering school. “You’re good at math and you can draw,” his father, a United Airlines mechanic, told him, promising to lend Fuscoe the family car, a 1957 Volkswagen, if he chose engineering. Fuscoe, who described himself as a “shy and scared freshman,” commuted from Torrance to USC every day.
“I was a 2.6 grade point average kid from Torrance with a beat-up Volkswagen and $1 for lunch,” he said. “USC shaped me into the man I have become. I learned self-confidence, creativity, resourcefulness, empathy, teamwork and, most of all, leadership here.”
Fuscoe and his wife, Bonnie, recently gave $10 million to the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, and $1 million each to the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance and the USC School of Cinematic Arts, honoring the family’s lifelong commitment to USC.
“We are immensely grateful to Pat and Bonnie for their faith in the Viterbi School, its vision and its power as a source of good for all humanity,” said USC Viterbi Dean Yannis C. Yortsos. “Their belief that today’s world needs smart, ethical, diverse and interdisciplinary engineers, with different and inspiring mindsets of growth, is in full resonance with what we practice at USC Viterbi.”
The Fuscoes’ gifts will support the general funds of the three schools, which are used to pay for educational programs, laboratory spaces, facilities and interdisciplinary activities that benefit students and faculty members.
The couple met in 1972 as undergraduates, Bonnie studying art while Patrick studied civil engineering. Bonnie spent two years at USC before transferring to Otis College of Art and Design.
“Bonnie taught me that beauty matters,” Fuscoe said. The couple’s love for engineering and the arts led to their belief that there is an intrinsic beauty in STEM and that art can enrich it.
Their daughter, Sally Anne Fuscoe, enrolled at USC to study dance and found herself directing, lighting and choreographing student productions. She graduated from the School of Cinematic Arts in 2006 with a B.A. in critical studies and is an accomplished film and television editor. Son Patrick Fuscoe Jr. graduated from USC Viterbi with an M.S. in computer science in 2019. He combines cognitive science, environmental engineering and chemistry to build software that improves people’s lives.
In 1992, Fuscoe founded Fuscoe Engineering, growing the company into an award-winning firm whose projects include the Cars Land attraction at Disney.land. He considers his most significant career achievement to be the design and construction of Woodbridge, Irvine, a 2,000-acre planned community with lakes that he completed at the age of 27.“ All things in life are connected,” Fuscoe said. It’s a philosophy engrained into his company, something he calls “full circle thinking,” that he wishes to pass on to current and future Trojans.
“Find your own edge,” Fuscoe said. “What makes you who you are? And are you ready for the work that lies ahead? We feel thankful that we and our children are able to do what we love in life, and we have learned that here. That’s the reason we’re giving back to this remarkable place.”