University Club’s grand opening marks a new era
The Board of Councilors of the USC University Club hosted a grand opening celebration at King Stoops Hall on Oct. 3 to officially commemorate the opening of the club’s new home.
As a jazz trio performed near a striking floor-to-ceiling window, invitees enjoyed appetizers and champagne, a buffet that included shrimp and sushi, and a selection of sweets, as well as more food and drinks on the outdoor patio.
Board President Tommy Knapp, associate director of the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies and assistant professor at the USC Marshall School of Business, kicked off the festivities with opening remarks.
“This is a grand opening that marks the end of 50 years of the University Club in its previous location, and marks the beginning of a new era here at King Stoops Hall,” he said.
King Stoops Hall, a historic brick-faced structure, was built in 1923 as a public library and has since housed the USC Education Library, the East Asian Library and the Leonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics. A significant renovation and interior redesign took place to accommodate the club’s needs. The architectural firm of Perkins+Will was selected for the renovation. Construction was completed in June, and the club opened for business in July.
The reconfigured space includes a 2,500-square-foot dining room, private rooms, a lounge with televisions, a bar and a 1,450-square-foot banquet space on the second-floor, as well as a patio on the north side of the building for outdoor dining and events. Semi-private dining areas, separated from the main dining area by elegant archways between columns and lush drapery, are flanked by built-in bookshelves that preserve the historic feel of the building.
“I think all of us who are here can agree this is the University Club of the University of Southern California of the 21st century,” said Elizabeth Garrett, USC provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “When I became provost, the most important thing to me was to create space for the life of the mind, space for intellectual and interdisciplinary conversation, space for us to relax while also pursuing the most rigorous of scholarship, the most imaginative of creative work and the very best of teaching.”
Garrett also pointed out that the University Club’s new location, at the northeast corner of Trousdale Parkway and West 34th Street, positions the club at the center of the University Park Campus.
Executive Director Ed Kasky described the club as the heart of the university, both physically and spiritually. He said the renovated building was a “beautiful mixture of the old and the new, the past, the present and the future.”
Former Board President William McClure, who pledged the first naming gift at the club’s closing reception on May 2, challenged the crowd to join and support the club.
“This club is a gateway to everything that happens at the university,” said McClure, a USC Presidential Medallion recipient and professor of neurobiology at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. “This is where we meet people … this is where we spend countless hours every year talking to friends and getting things done.”
Not only a place for informal collaboration, the University Club will host numerous intellectual events in the scriptorium above the dining area, including the Provost’s Writers Series, which Garrett created to highlight the work of USC faculty.
After the remarks, a singer and a guitarist from the USC Thornton School of Music’s Popular Music Performance program treated the crowd to songs by Aretha Franklin and Michael Jackson.
Among the distinguished guests at the event were Amy Dundon Berchtold, daughter of Joyce King Stoops, after whom the building is named, and Oscar Mendoza, the face of the club for 35 years who retired as director in 2000.