Looking for an appropriate way to honor USC Marshall School of Business dean James G. Ellis for his commitment to undergraduate students, Tyler Muse ’07 and his family have made a $250,000 challenge grant to establish the James G. Ellis Endowed Scholarship Fund.
Income from the endowed fund will be used to provide tuition assistance for outstanding and deserving undergraduate students enrolled full-time at the school.
“The goal of the fund is to keep USC Marshall strong and ensure that the school can continue to compete for the best and brightest students,” Muse said. “We are challenging alumni and friends to make contributions to the scholarship fund, and we will match those contributions one to one.”
Muse initially did not meet his mentor Ellis under the best of circumstances.
Muse was the newly elected president of his fraternity, and he was in front of a Judicial Board explaining a plan to enhance the grade point average of his house, which at the time had the dubious distinction of having the lowest GPA on fraternity row.
Ellis was on the Judicial Board, Muse recalled, and the dean listened intently to his plan. At the end of the presentation, Ellis said, “Let me tell you all the reasons that’s not going to work.”
And then he went on to provide Muse with concrete suggestions for revising his plan, which resulted in the biggest improvement on the row the following semester.
“I was floored by the guy,” Muse said. “He was honest, brilliant and his suggestions for reworking my plan resulted in immediate and positive results.”
So began a close relationship between a USC undergraduate and the dean of a business school that endures to this day and has led to the creation of a scholarship in honor of Ellis that will support USC Marshall undergraduates.
“I pestered him for lunch meetings and got as much of his time as most undergrads could get. He became my mentor,” Muse said. “Dean Ellis has been daring and proactive in seeking out new opportunities and challenges. He told me what had worked for him. And more importantly, he told me what had not worked. I discovered that mentorship is learning from the mistakes of others.”
Since graduating from USC, Muse has worked in energy project finance, and he is currently a senior analyst at General Electric Energy Financial Services in Texas. He also is the co-founder of the Tagai Mentorship Program, a nonprofit organization that matches young professionals in New York City with students at the International Community High School in the South Bronx.
Founding a nonprofit focusing on mentorship was influenced by Muse’s experiences at USC Marshall. “Dean Ellis was very influential in my understanding of mentorship, and he taught me that I could become a good mentor as well,” Muse said.
Muse believes that success early in his career is inextricably linked to Ellis.
“He was instrumental when I was trying to find my first job out of college. He went out of his way for me in so many ways, and when Dean Ellis came to New York on USC Marshall business, he would always find time to have dinner or meet with me,” Muse said.
For Ellis, the scholarship represents an important tool to help USC Marshall continue to attract superb undergraduate students in a highly competitive environment.
“This generous gift is a direct way to open doors for talented, deserving students and help them become tomorrow’s leaders,” Ellis said. “We all are grateful to Tyler and his family, and the many friends of USC Marshall, for their unwavering support of our students.”