Viterbi Alumnus and Construction Executive Establishes $1 Million Endowment in Construction Management

| December 10, 2021

Gift from Jonathan Emami, graduate of the construction management program, will help nurture the next generation of construction and development leaders

Professor Henry Koffman, Alumni and JEMCORP President Jonathan Emami and USC Viterbi Dean Yannis C. Yortsos at CMAA Symposium at USC

USC Viterbi Professor Henry Koffman, Master of Construction Management Alumni Jonathan Emami and USC Viterbi Dean Yannis C. Yortsos at the 2021 CMAA Symposium. PHOTO/ LOUIS CHEN & BRYAN PARK.

The construction industry is one of the most traditional industries, and it is also ever-changing, advancing with new tools and technologies. No one understands this better than Jonathan Emami, head of JEMCOR and graduate of USC Viterbi School of Engineering’s Master’s in Construction Management Program (MCM), which helps build the foundation for tech-savvy, adaptive leaders in construction and development. That is why he recently established a $1 million endowment to support new initiatives, students and curriculum in the program.

JEMCOR is a vertically integrated real estate development and construction company that oversees every aspect of development, from site selection to construction and long-term management, and is leading the way in adaptive, innovative development solutions. It works primarily to develop and construct affordable and workforce rental housing in markets throughout California, a state in which the topic of affordable housing is an anxious one for many of its residents.

“Affordable or workforce housing could refer to rental housing for those who have found themselves down on their luck and once had a job and house and lost it, people transitioning from lesser quality living situations, people new to the workforce such as college graduates who don’t have large salaries, also teachers, police or firefighters, and seniors who are living independently and rely on a fixed income,” Emami said.

First earning his business management degree at San Jose State, Emami graduated from USC Viterbi’s MCM program in 2006. The program provided a foundation he said helped advance his career by providing experiences and expertise in both construction and development. From connecting with Professor Henry Koffman, whom Emami says is still a mentor in his life and career, to exposure to cutting edge projects like the Walt Disney Concert Hall and L.A. Live—projects that survive generations—Emami gained an education he imagines could not be replicated by one or even multiple years in career.

It was this foundation he wants to ensure the next generation of construction professionals benefits from. Emami said: “From being a student to giving back to the program—I’ve come full circle. This is a milestone in my life and career, and it’s important for me to give back.”

Prior to the recent endowment, in February 2020, Emami and his wife, Zareen Siddiq, established a $100K fellowship for students—one graduate student will be awarded with a $5K fellowship annually.

Said Koffman: “Jonathan Emami was an outstanding student in our MCM program. He took his studies seriously and worked hard, realizing that the knowledge he gained would be most beneficial to his real estate and development career. Emami’s gift will strengthen our construction management master’s program by supporting students, research, faculty programs and overall enhancement.”

In his own work, Emami is continuing to see the industry change and progress. Moves to streamline construction and development projects with the use of technology and to become better at building with offsite construction are increasingly a reality. “Designing more efficiently so that buildings can be built faster with less waste and less of an impact on the environment are important factors in construction, especially when it comes to housing,” he said.

As the construction industry advances, Emami recognizes the need for new professionals to learn to accommodate new and emerging tools, while also help bridge the gap from the increasingly obsolete tools and skillsets carried over from previous generations. “USC is on the frontlines of knowing what’s going on in the industry, and what changes are coming,” he said. “This exposure is very important.”

More than anything, Emami hopes the cycle of inspiration and mentorship imparted by the MCM program continues on through generations. “USC really makes you feel like part of the Trojan Family and I hope that MCM students can benefit from the lifelong learning and support that I have gained from my time there,” he said.


Published on December 10th, 2021

Last updated on November 9th, 2022

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