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Widney Nip/Tuck

The Alumni House gets a cardinal and gold “makeover”from alum Sue McKeever and a fired-up committee.

For many in the Trojan Family, Widney Alumni House is right up there with Tommy Trojan when it comes to iconic reminders of USC. Yet it wasn’t until 2008 � 128 years after what was then known as the “university building” first opened its doors � that USC’s official colors became part of the house’s interior design.

The idea for the Widney “makeover” first came to Scott M. Mory, USC associate senior vice president for alumni relations, while interviewing for that position. During a tour of the house, he noticed that the downstairs interior did not evoke USC. When he later met alumni who agreed, Mory assembled a group to transform Southern California’s oldest university building into a cardinal-and-gold-themed celebration of USC.

In January 2008, an advisory committee composed of representatives from various alumni groups and USC Alumni Association senior staff met to brainstorm design strategies. In light of the reverence alumni and historic preservationists hold towards the house, a state historic monument since 1955, the advisory committee faced the challenge of creating a fresh look that’s classical enough to satisfy traditionalists.

Fortunately, advisory committee member Sue McKeever ’61, former Alumnae Coordinating Council chair and registered member of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), donated her time and expertise to the Widney redesign project. McKeever, who previously worked on the redesign of the Heritage Hall football office, effectively led her fellow committee members through a “Design 101” crash course, complete with homework. She asked them to bring in swatches, ideas and pictures to help her develop a master plan.

Two months later, McKeever unveiled the final design to enthusiastic approval from her fellow committee members and Martha Harris, senior vice president for university relations. Through a subtle yet striking use of color, McKeever would successfully “refresh” the look of Widney’s ground floor while preserving the Victorian-Georgian elegance that’s been the house’s trademark since a 1976 restoration overseen by the design firm Cannell & Chaffin.

McKeever and her crew began working on the house in mid-June. They stripped the downstairs wallpaper and painted the walls a soft yellow gold. They replaced the carpeting throughout the house; in the reception area, there are now hickory hardwood floors with Persian rugs. Bringing light and airiness to the boardroom are gold silk drapes and bamboo shades.

Although there are a few eye-catching additions to the furnishings, such as the new burgundy boardroom chairs monogrammed with the original USC crest, McKeever made inventive use of many of the house’s original pieces. For example, the old boardroom chairs have been reupholstered in burgundy leather and now line the room’s perimeter. Two Tommy Trojan statues donated by former alumni association president Alexander Cappello ’77 have become desk lamps in the president’s lounge. And a splendid Louis XV Bombay chest that Norman Topping, USC’s seventh president, donated to the alumni association now greets visitors from its new location in the reception area.

McKeever and her crew met their deadline: the association’s Alumni Leadership Conference on Sept. 11-14. The result realizes what McKeever says was the advisory committee’s guiding principle: “maintaining the feel of the house while kicking it up a notch.”

� Timothy O. Knight

A view of the Widney Alumni House president’s lounge in the 1970s.
The same view after the recent makeover.
Photo by Joel Zink


Don’t Stop the Music

USC’s KSCR Radio plans to rock on, thanks to a new home and alums who still dig the music.

On April 2, 1975, with the Chicago song “Beginnings” piped into the Student Union Grill, USC’s radio station run by and for students, known today as KSCR, was born. Twelve students in the Hancock Foundation Building, sharing an old audio production studio with USC School of Journalism broadcasting classes, were behind the modest debut.

Under the guidance of Joe Saltzman, USC journalism professor then and now, and the late Kenneth Owler Smith, temporary head of the USC School of Journalism, the idea of reestablishing a student radio station had coalesced the previous fall. The prior station, KUSC, began life in 1946, but left campus to go classical in the early ’70s.

Within a year, the new station’s reach had expanded, via telephone lines, to include Birnkrant Residence Hall, a second room in the Student Activities Center and the McDonald’s on Figueroa. The station eked by until 1988, when it was incorporated and funded by the USC Student Senate.

The gravy train derailed in April 2007, however, when the USC Undergraduate Student Government, citing hundreds of student organizations that also merit support, cut KSCR funding by nearly half.

Enter the founding fathers and mothers. Buoyed by the fact that KSCR will have permanent quarters in USC’s new Ronald Tutor Campus Center in 2010 (coinciding with the station’s 35th anniversary), a group of its progenitors and alumni have banded together to help. They include Bob Moore ’76, MA ’78, KSCR’s founding general manager (1974-75), who ran the speaker wires from the Hancock’s second floor window to the grill across the street; Rosemary O’Brien ’76, whose nascent PR skills helped get L.A. radio personality Dr. Demento and Laugh-In’s Gary Owens to record station IDs; Julie Fosgate ’76, MA ’78, KSCR’s first news director; Ron Redmond ’77, who hosted a twice-weekly morning show with frat brother Mike Hugill ’75; and Justin Evans ’03, general manager (2002-03), who helped establish the KSCR Concert Series at Ground Zero Coffee House.

They have launched the KSCR Endowment Fund to raise $1 million. With money already allocated for construction of new station digs (including two permanent studios adjacent to Traditions Caf�, where live bands will perform), interest from the endowment will go exclusively to KSCR’s ongoing operations. Patrick Bailey at USC Student Life and Involvement is helping locate KSCR alumni who may want to give. Alumni and friends of KSCR may visit or KSCRfriends on Facebook for details.

For many KSCR alums, their station experience not only helped their careers, but nurtured some of their most cherished college memories. For example, back in the day when KSCR was heard only in the Student Union Grill, if someone dropped a coin in the resident jukebox, the chosen tune took precedence over the KSCR broadcast. Ron Redmond remembers putting on a Queen album, then heading to the grill with Mike Hugill. Posing as inspectors, they convinced the grill managers that the jukebox wiring was defective, and proceeded to cut the power cord. For weeks, KSCR was heard sans interruption.

Today, the station (slogan “Revolutionary Radio”) offers 24-hour programming at AM 1560 and In addition to playing music from multiple genres, KSCR broadcasts all USC football games and has been webcasting since 1998. It has a management staff of 20 with about 100 DJs and interns. And it has a loyal base of passionate alumni helping the station remain part of USC student life for years to come.

� Ross M. Levine

KSCR Radio staffers as they appeared in the 1976 El Rodeo. In the second row, far right, is Kent Shocknek ’78, CBS 2 and KCAL 9 reporter in Los Angeles..

Alum Trifecta

�� BIG APPLE Amir Akhavan ’02 was recently named 2008-09 president of the USC Alumni Club of New York. While a USC undergraduate, Akhavan served as co-executive director/president of Troy Camp, the student-run mentoring organization for children living in South Central Los Angeles. He also served as president of the USC Marshall Business Student Government. Currently a vice-president with the Manhattan investment banking firm The Jordan, Edmiston Group, Inc., Akhavan has been actively involved with the New York club for the past four years. Some of the programs the club is planning include a USC professor-led tour of the Museum of Modern Art, a casino night with alumni awards and an alumni mentoring program.

�� BIG PEACH Patricia (Gentz) Smith ’88 continues to establish USC’s identity in the South as USC Alumni Club of Atlanta president, a title she’s held since 2007. A sales manager for a promotional marketing company, Smith first became involved with the Atlanta club in 2003, when she helped organize the “Southern Comfort” football weekender for the USC-Auburn game. Aside from holding social and business networking events and scholarship fundraisers, Smith is working with local and national chapters of other PAC-10 school alumni associations to build a “conference” presence in Atlanta.

�� GOLDEN GATE Derwyn Denton ’81 became president of the USC Alumni Club of San Francisco in fall 2007, after nearly six years as club treasurer. A Smith Barney financial advisor, he has worked in the financial services industry for the past two decades. In addition to his efforts on behalf of Bay Area Trojans, Denton has been involved with the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce and several nonprofits. Planned events for the San Francisco club include evenings at the symphony and the opera.

For details on these and other USC Alumni Association programs, visit




The Alumni SCene

Trojans, past and future, on the march


1. Strike Up the Band

Forget some hesitant voices warbling “Happy Birthday.” When Vick R. Knight ’52 (holding certificate) turned 80 on April 19 in Canyon Lake, Calif., the USC Trojan Marching Band turned up to surprise him with a complement of brass. Several hundred guests and family members were also on hand to toast Knight, an educator, writer and public speaker. In 2005, the Riverside County Board of Supervisors and the Lake Elsinore Unified School District dedicated the Vick Knight Community Library in his honor. At his surprise birthday party, the USC Alumni Association presented Knight a certificate of recognition, designating him a “distinguished member of the Trojan Family” for his outstanding contributions as an educator and community volunteer.

2. Roll Out the Cardinal Carpet

In late July, USC Alumni Association President Richard A. DeBeikes, Jr. ’78 and his wife, Bryn ’80, hosted a USC SCend Off at their home in Irvine, Calif. Each summer, USC alumni clubs worldwide sponsor SCend Offs to welcome incoming USC freshmen to the Trojan Family and connect them, their families and friends to local alumni and alumni groups. Above, a lineup of new Trojans exercises their “Fight On!” fingers in the DeBeikes backyard.

3. The Doctors Are In

Bay Area Trojans got “medical news they could use” in July, when the USC Alumni Association, the Doctors of USC and the USC Bay Area Regional Alumni Board co-sponsored a reception and lecture featuring Keck School of Medicine of USC dean Carmen A. Puliafito. Keck faculty members David F. Penson and Laila Muderspach joined Puliafito, who discussed the latest developments in cancer treatment and eye health at San Francisco’s The Westin St. Francis. Seen above, left to right, are Dean Puliafito; Charles L. Johnston ’45 and wife Mary Jo; and Keck School development officer Michael Mayne.

4. Seoul Train

Representing Alumni Relations, associate senior vice president Scott M. Mory and senior director Grace Shiba traveled to Asia this past spring to connect with influential and engaged Trojans. Seen here at an evening reception in Seoul, South Korea, are, from left:�Bongrak Sohn MBA ’86, chairman of TTC Steel of Seoul and president of the USC Korean Alumni Association; Seokgu Yun MS ’93, CEO of the Korean security technology company Teruten; Shiba; Mory; and Don-Young Cho MBA ’87, executive vice president in the corporate communications division of Renault Samsung Motors.


Leadership 101

Hundreds of USC volunteers from Pasadena to Paris return for the Alumni Leadership Conference.

Hailed as the USC Alumni Association’s most ambitious and all-encompassing alumni leadership conference to date, the three-day, mid-September forum brought approximately 300 alumni leaders from around the world to the University Park campus. For the first time in its seven-year history, in addition to members of regional alumni clubs, alumnae groups, multicultural organizations and the Alumni Association Board of Governors, the annual event welcomed representatives from the alumni associations of USC’s various schools, as well as volunteers from USC Athletics support groups.

USC Alumni Association President Richard A. DeBeikes Jr. ’78 welcomed the participants, reminding them that “the success of all of the university’s alumni relations efforts depends on robust and effective partnerships between USC and its volunteers.” Volunteers then joined small discussion groups on leadership or donned cardinal-colored hardhats for a sneak preview of the new cinematic arts building under construction.

The afternoon highlight was “Lessons in Leadership,” a panel discussion moderated by Frank Buckley ’87, Emmy-winning co-anchor of LA’s KTLA Morning News. Talking about what makes a successful leader were former California state senator Martha Escutia ’79; California Pizza Kitchen co-founder and co-CEO Larry Flax LLB ’67, LLM ’71; Quiksilver (surfwear) CEO Bob McKnight ’76; and Olympic gold medalist and motivational speaker John Naber ’77.

Day one culminated for many of the volunteers at The Grove in western Los Angeles, where the alumni association, along with Caruso Affiliated, sponsored a pep rally. The rally featured the USC Trojan Marching Band and the USC Song Girls, mascot Traveler, former Trojan football greats including Marcus Allen ’81 and Anthony Davis ’75, and a group of 2008 Olympic medalists including swimmers Larsen Jensen ’07, Erik Vendt ’05 and Ous Mellouli ’07.

Day two began with a breakfast address by USC President Steven B. Sample, who likened alumni leadership to a symphony orchestra: “No matter how talented or accomplished any of the sections may be … you need to have everyone on the same page … playing together in harmony.”

Participants then were briefed by university administrators. USC Provost C. L. Max Nikias headlined a lunch at the Galen Center with USC deans and senior administrators in attendance.

In the afternoon, a panel highlighted some university faculty: Brent Blair of the USC School of Theatre, who trained therapists in applied theatre arts to work with Rwandan genocide survivors; Elizabeth Currid of the USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development, whose research examines why artists tend to congregate in big cities; Maja Mataric� of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, who co-directs the USC Robotics Research Lab; and Geoff Wiseman, director of USC’s Center for Public Diplomacy, who focused on USC’s commitment to fostering careers in public diplomacy. Joining them was USC student Clare Doody, who spoke about finding her niche as an American Studies major.

Friday evening, USC Associate Senior Vice President for Alumni Relations Scott M. Mory presided over the Volunteer Recognition Dinner. Individuals were honored from school alumni associations, regional alumni clubs, the Mexican American Alumni Association, USC Lambda and elsewhere.

Many attendees stayed through Saturday for the alumni association’s first home game tailgate, held next to the Widney Alumni House. From there it was on to the Coliseum, joining its largest crowd in some 15 years, to watch the Trojans trounce the Buckeyes.

� Ross M. Levine

Martha Escutia and Bob McKnight pay close attention as California Pizza Kitchen’s Larry Flax, center, addresses conference attendees.
Photo by Joel Zink


�� KUDOS The USC Lambda Gay and Lesbian Alumni Association reached an important milestone on June 27, when the City of Los Angeles honored the organization during the city’s second annual LGBT Pride Heritage Month celebration.

Before a packed crowd in the Tom Bradley Tower of Los Angeles City Hall, city council members Bernard Parks (left) and Bill Rosendahl issued proclamations to Lambda, as well as the USC LGBT Resource Center, the GLBT Student Assembly and the university itself, for their commitment to enriching the diversity of the Trojan Family.

Accepting the proclamations were (from left) Vincent Virgil, director of the university’s LGBT Resource Center; Vince Wong ‘03, Lambda president; and Isaac Ahn ‘10, a representative of the GLBT Student Assembly.

The city’s commendation marks another honor for Lambda, which celebrated its 15th anniversary this year. Since its inaugural reception on May 1, 1993, Lambda has grown in membership and campus visibility. At its first board meeting, Lambda had 65 registered members; today, it boasts a contact list of approximately 1,000 alumni. Relying solely on its own fundraising, Lambda has built an endowment that awards seven scholarships to LGBT students annually. These scholarships are presented at the Lavender Commencement Celebration, which Lambda co-sponsors with the USC LGBT Resource Center and GLBT Student Assembly. Over the years, Lavender Commencement keynote speakers have included Rent star Anthony Rapp, USC Annenberg School for Communication professor Laura Castaneda and USC Marshall School of Business professor Kirk Snyder.

That Lambda is flourishing testifies to the supportive environment at USC, which tied for the highest score in The Advocate College Guide’s 2006 ranking of the “Top 20 Best of the Best Campuses for LGBT Students.” The university’s strong showing in the rankings is due in large part to the range of services and programming Lambda offers USC’s LGBT alumni. One upcoming event is a tour of the Italian Riviera in spring 2009, through Trojan Travel’s escapes program.

� Timothy O. Knight

For details on these and other USC Alumni Association programs, visit

Photo by Timothy O. Knight

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