By Yasmine Pezeshkpour
Fariborz Maseeh ScD delivered the USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy commencement speech on May 13.
Maseeh founded the Kids Institute for Development and Advancement (KiDA) in 2008 after his son was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at the age of 2. Maseeh credited much of the success of KiDA to division students and the guidance of associate dean and chair Florence Clark PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA.
The class of 2016 consisted of 10 bachelor of science, 156 master of arts, 53 doctor of occupational therapy and one doctor of philosophy graduates.
During his commencement speech, Maseeh took a moment to recognize Clark for 28 years of leadership at USC Chan. Graduates and guests joined in with a standing ovation for Clark, who is set to step down as associate dean at the end of 2016.
USC Chan students won three of the top six student scholarships, as ranked by dollar amount, that are administered by the American Occupational Therapy Foundation. Founded in 1965, AOTF is a non-profit organization that administers more than 50 annual scholarships to students enrolled in accredited or developing occupational therapy programs in the United States.
Sarah Chang MA ‘16 received a $5000 North Coast Medical Scholarship. Joseph Christian Ungco MA ‘16 received a $5000 OccupationalTherapy.com scholarship. Leah Goodman MA ‘16 received a $2500 Kappa Delta Phi Scholarship.
Fariborz Maseeh will be the keynote speaker at the USC Chan Division’s 74th commencement ceremony on Friday, May 13.
Maseeh is founder and managing principal of Picoco LLC, an investment management firm that manages various assets and funds, and the sole founder and president of The Massiah Foundation, a charitable organization investing in transformational situations for broad public benefit.
A renowned expert in the field of micro-electro-mechanical systems, Maseeh founded IntelliSense in 1991 with the goal of reducing time and expense when creating next-generation micro-scale devices. Under his leadership, IntelliSense created the first custom design, development and manufacturing operation and became one of the world’s fastest-growing companies.
Maseeh holds more than 60 scientific publications in business strategy, fabrication technologies and design of software for micro-scale devices, and he has authored many patents and trademarks. He has given numerous invited talks at various organizations on science, entrepreneurship and philanthropy. In 2008, Maseeh founded Kids Institute for Development and Advancement, an integrated center of excellence for the treatment of children with autism serving families in Orange County. KIDA offers education, therapy and social skills under one roof at its state-of-the-art facility.
After earning his bachelor of science degree in engineering with honors and master’s degree in applied mathematics from Portland State University, Maseeh earned a master of science degree in engineering from the University of Texas at Austin and a doctorate of science in engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Today he serves as a board member of the MIT Corporation, is the chair of MIT’s Sponsored Research visiting committee, and is a member of MIT’s Sloan School of Management and Brain and Cognitive Sciences visiting committees. He is a member of the Board of Fellows at Harvard Medical School, and a council member of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering.
Assistant professor Jenny Martínez reflects on how USC’s Good Neighbors campaign impacted her own professional path
The Good Neighbors-funded STAR program connected me with a USC research laboratory during my senior year in high school. I worked in the Alcohol and Brain Research Laboratory under Dr. Ronald Alkana and Dr. Daryl Davies. I spent several hours each day during and after school in the lab engaging in various research-related activities. I learned to read research articles, operated lab equipment, collected data for my research project, developed research posters and presented my work. I also received a stipend to work in the lab full-time during the summer with graduate students and STAR alumni mentors.
The STAR program gave me early, immersive and unparalleled exposure to the scientific process and academia that would have otherwise been out of my reach. I met people who helped me apply to college, taught me about college and graduate school, shared their experiences with me and supported me as I made decisions about my education. I find that I am continuing to build on the base of networking, research and professional skills that I started developing in STAR even to this day as an occupational therapist and faculty member here at USC.
Programs like these make higher education and professional careers accessible. They are truly worthwhile efforts toward addressing the devastating effects that a decreased availability of social capital, finances, and access to high-quality resources can have. These initiatives teach new knowledge, provide meaningful experiences, increase confidence and socialize students to professional skills and behaviors, all while expanding support networks that will be there even beyond college admission.
USC’s 21st Good Neighbors campaign, with a fundraising goal of $1.6 million, runs through the month of October.
The respected researcher, educator and leader to focus full-time on scholarship and division initiatives
Florence Clark PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, associate dean and chair of the USC Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, after much reflection, has decided to step down from her administrative positions after the 2016 calendar year. The announcement was made to USC Chan faculty, staff and students in a memorandum distributed October 14 by Avishai Sadan DMD, MBA, dean of the Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC within which the USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy is administratively operated.
Dr. Clark joined USC’s faculty in 1976 as an assistant professor in what was then known as the Department of Occupational Therapy. In 1983 she was promoted to the rank of associate professor, and in 1989 was appointed department chair at the rank of professor. Due to a strategic administrative realignment, in 2006 the department expanded to become a division within the USC School of Dentistry, and Dr. Clark was appointed the inaugural associate dean of the newly created division.
Dr. Clark was installed as the first Mrs. T.H. Chan Professor in Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, an endowed faculty position created in 2014 by the unprecedented $20 million gift made by USC Trustee Ronnie C. Chan and his family, which also formally named the division as the USC Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy. Dr. Clark will continue to hold this named professorship.
“It has been a tremendous honor to serve as our division’s associate dean and chair,” said Dr. Clark. “I am so grateful for the many accomplishments, friendships, discoveries and joys that have imbued my personal and professional life, and I am invigorated to return to being a full-time scientist and educator on our faculty.”
During Dr. Clark’s 27 years of leadership, the USC Chan Division has grown exponentially: its budget today is 22 times larger than what it was in 1989, the faculty size has grown from seven members to more than 80 full-time members and extramural research funding has increased to more than $27 million of cumulative federal support.
During her tenure as chair, Dr. Clark also served one term as president of the American Occupational Therapy Association, acquired more than $10 million of federal research funding on most grants of which she served as principal investigator and was instrumental in securing the Chan family’s naming gift, the first and largest of its kind made to any occupational therapy program in the history of the field.
“We have been very fortunate to benefit from her leadership,” wrote Dean Sadan in the announcement. “I look forward to … her continued accomplishments as she returns to life as a full-time academic.”