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$35M Gift to USC Is Largest Ever to a Business School

by Paula Korn

The USC School of Business has received a pledge of $35 million from Gordon S. Marshall, chairman of the board of Marshall Industries and a USC business alumnus (class of 1946). In recognition of his generosity, university trustees have voted to rename the school the Gordon S. Marshall School of Business.

The Marshall gift, committed at the end of 1996 but announced Jan. 15, is the largest endowment ever made to a business school and the second largest in USC’s history. The gift places Marshall in the top 10 of Slate magazine’s recently published – and much heralded – list of America’s leading philanthropists for 1996. The gift also places Marshall among the top 10 of Fortune magazine’s top 25 philanthropists, published last week.

Said USC business dean Randolph W. Westerfield: “The Marshall gift, combined with other recent gifts, will enable us to forge ahead as one of the premier academic programs in the country. We are honored to associate the name of Gordon S. Marshall with our school. As an alumnus and entrepreneur in the forefront of marketing new technologies, Gordon has forged ahead where others have failed. He truly represents the USC story.”

USC President Steven B. Sample called the gift extraordinary. “It is extraordinary not only for its size but also for its capacity to enable us to continue the development of our business school, especially at the graduate level,” Dr. Sample said. “With the generous support of philanthropists such as Gordon Marshall, USC continues to rise within the ranks of the nation’s top research universities. We would be delighted to see a number of other USC schools receive naming endowment gifts during our Building on Excellence campaign.”

Marshall has been a member of the university’s board of trustees for nearly three decades. His company, Marshall Industries, based in El Monte, Calif., is one of the nation’s five largest distributors of industrial electronic components and production supplies. The company provides its suppliers with round-the-clock nationwide service to 30,000 customers in the major electronic manufacturing areas of the U.S. and Canada. A $1.2 billion company with offices in 38 North American cities, Marshall Industries has been listed on the New York Stock Exchange since 1959.

A native of Los Angeles, Marshall has spent the greater part of his life in the electronics industry. A bomber pilot in World War II, he received his bachelor of science degree in 1946 from what was then USC’s College of Commerce. He became a manufacturer’s representative and, in 1953, founded Marshall Industries. His interest in electronics began as a teenage ham radio operator.

“I am fortunate to have been associated with USC all my life,” said Marshall, an accounting major. “Under presidents Norman Topping, John Hubbard, James Zumberge and now Steven Sample, I have seen the university grow and improve. There has been a relentless pursuit of quality and excellence. As a trustee, I have been proud to play a small role. And now, at this critical point in the university’s history, I am able to provide some resources that will allow the business school, one of the outstanding programs of this university, to advance within the top tier of American business education.”

Marshall has maintained strong ties to USC, serving as a member of the university’s board of trustees since 1968 and as the board’s secretary from 1970 to 1984. He has chaired the board’s academic affairs committee and served on its executive and development committees as well. He has been active in the business school’s Distribution Manage- ment Program and has lectured in a number of courses in USC departments and programs, serving as Executive-in-Residence. In 1994, he received the school’s Alumni Award for Business Excellence.

As a civic leader, Marshall was a founder and associate of the Los Angeles Music Center. From 1973 to 1975, he served on Gov. Reagan’s California Post Secondary Education Commission. He also has served as a member of the state’s Committee for the Master Plan for Higher Education.

Noted for its outstanding international curriculum, the USC Marshall School of Business focuses much of its curriculum on Asia and Latin America. The excellence of its programs in entrepreneurship, organizational change, leadership, finance, and accounting is nationally acknowledged. In addition, the school’s entertainment management concentration capitalizes on its proximity to Hollywood. The school’s programs consistently rank among the best in the country. For example:<

* Third for its undergraduate Entrepreneur Program (U.S. News & World Report, Sept. 16, 1996).

* Fifth for its undergraduate Accounting Pro- gram (U.S. News & World Report, Sept. 16, 1996).

* Fifth (tied with Stanford) for its graduate Entrepreneur Program (U.S. News & World Report, March 18, 1996).

* Eighth for its Professionals & Managers (Evening) MBA program (U.S. News & World Report, March 18, 1996).

* 10th in international business (U.S. News & World Report, March 18, 1996).

* Fourth among the nation’s 25 best entrepreneur programs (Success Magazine, Aug. 1996).

* Fourth for its undergraduate and graduate accounting programs (Public Accounting Report, Aug. 1996).

* 13th overall for its undergraduate business program (U.S. News & World Report, Sept. 16, 1996), with all of its undergraduate academic programs ranked in the top 20.

* Among the top 20 business schools for its Technology MBA program – business and computer technology combined into a single master’s degree (Computerworld, Nov. 30, 1995).

* Among the 20 leading programs in the country for its Executive Education program (Business Week, Oct. 23, 1995).

* Among the 20 best MBA programs for Asians (Asia, Inc., Sept. 1994).

The school’s undergraduate program, with nearly 2,500 upper-division majors in accounting and business administration, combines in-depth knowledge of the theory and practice of business with a solid foundation in the liberal arts. This blend enables students to understand and deal with a rapidly changing, complex world and enables them to enter productive careers immediately or to undertake graduate or professional studies.

The innovative Masters in Business Administration program offers cross-disciplinary studies that are carefully sequenced and integrated in content, technology and instruction. The two-year program, which encourages practical learning, is one of the most diverse programs of graduate business education in the world.

Nearly 1,500 students are enrolled in the graduate programs of the USC Marshall School of Business. In addition to the cross-disciplinary MBA program, the school offers a Professionals and Managers (PM) MBA Program, an Executive MBA Program, and an International Business Education and Research (IBEAR) MBA Program. The school also offers courses leading to a Ph.D. degree, master’s of accounting, and master’s of business taxation degrees.

Marshall’s gift will help support such ambitious new endeavors as the Pacific Rim Education (PRIME) Program, which will send USC’s entire MBA first-year class abroad for international study and experience. “This is the first major American business school to send its entire class abroad,” said Westerfield. “International experience is a must for today’s MBA student.” Beginning this spring, 260 full-time students – the largest USC MBA class ever – will travel to Pacific Rim countries to complete an intensive three-unit course in Pacific Rim management practices and business opportunities. USC faculty, and faculty of partner institutions in the Pacific Rim, will team-teach the course as part of a required four-week module.

Marshall’s gift will be an important part of USC’s Building on Excellence campaign to raise $1 billion by the year 2000. Encompassing all academic units, as well as the USC athletics program and key university-wide projects, the campaign will further the four paramount initiatives of USC’s strategic plan: strengthening undergraduate education, encouraging interdisciplinary teaching and research, focusing on Southern California and emphasizing internationalization.

Campaign chairman Kenneth Leventhal and his wife, Elaine, recently committed $15 million to the business school’s Elaine and Kenneth Leventhal School of Accounting. Additional recent gifts to the business school include $5 million from J. Kristoffer and Jane Hoffman Popovich, through the Hoffman Foundation, for construction of a 55,000-square-foot building for the School of Business, to open in the fall of 1998. This past October, David Tappan, a trustee of the university, pledged $2 million, and in December, the Takefuji Corp. of Tokyo, Japan, gave $2 million to the school as a “symbol of cross-Pacific exchange.” These gifts have brought the business school’s campaign goal of $100 million close to reality.

The USC Marshall School of Business, founded in 1920, is the oldest business school in Southern California. For more than 75 years, the school has helped expand society’s knowledge base and create new models for learning and teaching in the fast-evolving business environment.

Located in Los Angeles at the gateway to the Pacific Rim, USC ranks among the nation’s top universities in the number of foreign students it enrolls and the number of Pacific Rim business leaders it has trained. Its business school is dedicated to strengthening its position as a pre-eminent international center of business education and research at the undergraduate, graduate and executive levels. Its course work emphasizes the development of knowledge and skills essential to managerial success: entrepreneurial spirit, leadership, international awareness, and managing new technologies.

$35M Gift to USC Is Largest Ever to a Business School

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