J. Terrence Lanni
HSC Weekly 2011-07-29
J. Terrence Lanni, longtime Keck School of Medicine supporter, 68
By Pauline Vu
J. Terrence Lanni, a USC alumnus and member of the Keck School of Medicine’s Board of Overseers, passed away on July 14 after a two-year battle with cancer. He was 68.
Lanni was one of the world’s most respected hotel executives. During his 13-year tenure as chairman and CEO of the company that began as MGM Grand, he took a one-casino company and turned it into one of the largest casino operators in the world. The company was later renamed MGM Mirage and now is known as MGM Resorts International.
He had been a member of the Board of Overseers since its inception in 1999. Lanni was also a generous philanthropic supporter of the Keck School, Dean Carmen A. Puliafito said in a letter to other members of the board.
“We watched him battle cancer with great courage over the past two years. He was a good friend who will be sorely missed,” Puliafito said.
Lanni graduated from USC with a bachelor’s degree in business in 1965. He served on the Marshall School of Business’ Board of Leaders and was named the school’s Alumnus of the Year in 1992.
After his graduation, Lanni served as treasurer for Republic Corp. for 10 years. In 1977, he entered the gaming industry, joining Caesars World as treasurer and chief financial officer. He eventually became the company’s president and chief operating officer, before leaving in 1995 to head MGM Grand. He retired in 2008.
In the gaming industry, Lanni was known for his integrity and for establishing the first formal diversity and inclusion program in the industry.
Lanni garnered numerous accolades throughout his career. He was inducted into the Gaming Hall of Fame in 2000, received Casino Journal’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001, and was a finalist for MarketWatch’s CEO of the Year in 2007.
In a statement, Lanni’s family said his death was peaceful.
“So many have shared with us stories of the ways in which Terry touched their lives. He was a very humble man and would have found all the attention embarrassing,” the statement said. “Nonetheless, we are all proud of the positive impact he had on so many people’s lives and will forever seek ways in which to honor his memory.”
A memorial service was held July 22 in South Pasadena, and another is planned for August in Las Vegas.
Lanni was born in Los Angeles in 1943. He is survived by his wife, Debbie, and sons, Sean and Patrick. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations be made to the Lanni Family Cancer Research Fund, under the direction of Heinz-Josef Lenz, professor of medicine and preventive medicine at the Keck School and the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Memorial contributions may be made online at keck.usc.edu/TerrenceLanni or sent to the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center Development Office, Attn: Carmy Peters, 1441 Eastlake Ave., NOR 8302, Los Angeles, CA 90033.
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