Bedrosian: lifelong Trojan from coast to coast
As John Bedrosian ’59 accepted his Half Century Trojans Hall of Fame award, he gave new meaning to the words “Trojan for life.”
At an elegant awards luncheon held at Town & Gown on Oct. 8, he told a gathering of dedicated USC alumni, trustees and friends: “I have been a Trojan since birth, being born in the town of Troy, New York, where everyone was a Trojan. It was therefore inevitable that I would wind up here at USC — and wind up standing here at this podium.”
His parents came to the United States in the early 20th century to escape the Armenian genocide in Turkey. They met in New Jersey, got married and moved to New York, where his father worked as a butcher. The couple had three sons: John was the youngest, the middle son died in early childhood and the eldest had enough bouts with rheumatic fever to necessitate a move to a warmer climate. So in 1948, 13-year-old John and the Bedrosian family relocated to Los Angeles.
“I hated Christmas time because it was this terrible sunshine weather,” he said. “Where’s the snow? Where’s the cold? And I was a Giants fan. It took me a while to get used to it.”
It also took him a while to find his fellow Trojans. He earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1956 before heading across town to earn his LLB degree from the USC Gould School of Law. At USC, he served as president of the Student Bar Association and was a member of both Skull and Dagger and the Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity.
Bedrosian practiced law in the health care field, which led him to co-found National Medical Enterprises (NME), which is now Tenet Healthcare Corp., with Richard Eamer and Leonard Cohen in 1969.
During Bedrosian’s 24-year tenure as NME’s senior executive vice president and director, the hospital chain frequently hired student interns from the USC Price School of Public Policy’s Master of Health Administration program.
“A lot of young people want to sit down and have lunch and pick my brain, and I love doing that,” he said. “I tell them that the most important thing is know the people you’re going to do business with. Know who they are. Know what their reputations are. Know that they’re going to be there when you need them and vice versa.”
In 1995, Bedrosian co-founded Autobytel Inc., the Internet’s largest new and used car buying service.
“My friend Pete Ellis, who’s a car dealer, had the idea for Autobytel,” Bedrosian said. “I got on board, I chaired it and I took it public. I knew how to make companies happen, so I guess that was my gift. But I never had an original idea in my life other than to propose to my wife.”
Since stepping down as Autobytel’s chairman in 1999, Bedrosian has dedicated his energies to his personal business investments, charitable endeavors and lifelong involvement with USC.
In 2005, Bedrosian and his wife, Judith, endowed USC Price’s Judith and John Bedrosian Center on Governance and Public Enterprise.
“It’s an important subject, especially this day and age,” said Bedrosian, who has been a member of the USC Price Board of Councilors since the board’s inception in 1983. “The public doesn’t like anything going on in Washington. I don’t either. They can’t sit down and talk out a problem and negotiate a resolution. And the center doesn’t fix that problem, but it is a good effort to educate the public on what governance is all about.”
Bedrosian is also a past chair of the Board of Councilors of the Keck School of Medicine of USC, and he was instrumental in building the Keck Hospital of USC, which opened in 1991. He’s also active in USC’s Friends of the Library.
Bedrosian’s extensive leadership and service extends beyond the walls of Troy. In 1992, he was appointed to the California Economic Development Corp. by then-Gov. Pete Wilson. A former president of the Federation of American Health Systems, Bedrosian has served on the boards of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, the California Business Roundtable, the Healthcare Leadership Council, the American Hospital Association and the Association of Western Hospitals.
Since 2003, Bedrosian has served as president of a private foundation that he and his wife established. He currently sits on the National Institute of Transplantation (NIT) board of directors as well as the NIT Foundation board. Bedrosian has also served several terms as president of the Bel Air Presbyterian Church and on the board of directors of Oaks Christian School in Thousand Oaks, Calif.
In presenting the Half Century Trojans Hall of Fame Award, USC Price Dean Jack H. Knott thanked Bedrosian for all that he does for USC and beyond it.
“John is a person of great character who has given back to the university and the community in multiple ways,” Knott said.
USC President C. L. Max Nikias joined in congratulating Bedrosian and fellow honorees James Maddux, Kathleen McCarthy Kostlan, John Shea and Barbara Solomon.
“You’re the pride of our Half Century Trojans,” he said, “and true pillars of the Trojan Family.”