University of Southern California

Not Just a Building, Town & Gown Group is Major USC Scholarship Source
Quarter of Recipients from Marshall or Leventhal
February 13, 2008 • by News at Marshall

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For all the rigorous presentations she's made the past four years to the demanding professors at the USC Marshall School of Business, Lauren Follett admitted she was a bit intimidated by the vast crowd she faced during a Feb. 5 luncheon.

"I've done a lot of presentations at the Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at USC Marshall, but nothing like this," Follett said.

Looking out at nearly 600 people stretching to the far back end of Town & Gown, Follett tried to remain composed, finding the words to thank the group that gave her $10,000 in scholarships, as well as important support from women who’d themselves navigated the challenges of getting a USC degree. That group is also called Town & Gown, and is the university’s oldest and biggest women’s organization, with more than 650 members.

"They want you to be the best you can be," Follett said. "Town & Gown is huge with alumni. To be able to be a part of that was special. I love USC."

Follett, the daughter of USC alums George and Kay Follett, is a double major in business and communications, and plans to pursue a career in venture capital law. She is interviewing with USC Gould School of Law, and with Town & Gown yet again for a chance to continue her scholarship into graduate school.

Follett is one of more than 300 undergraduate and graduate Trojans who received Town & Gown scholarships this year, said Cathleen Menke, who with Jan Moore is one of the organization’s vice presidents of scholarship. About a quarter of the recipients are, like Follett, majoring in business or accounting.

The organization, which is in its 105th year, gives out more than $1 million a year in scholarships, typically between $2,500 and $10,000 annually per student, said Menke, herself a USC Marshall MBA alumna. Town & Gown is changing its policies for next year, raising the minimum amount all recipients will get to a single consistent amount, and broadeningthe range of recipients.

Menke said a key to the Town & Gown process is that students interview every year for a renewal of their scholarship. Not every recipient has an easy time adjusting to college, as evidenced by Geoffrey Young, who followed Follett to the lectern at the Town & Gown scholarship luncheon.

For such stumbling stars, the organization's ongoing engagement in their scholastic career can be a lifesaver, Young said.

In Young's first semester, he signed up for a bushel of admirable extracurricular activities, then promptly saw his GPA collapse in his first report cards. Young then spent much of his next three years in school trying to crawl out of the probationary hole he’d dug himself.

Where other programs might have revoked Young’s scholarship after that horrendous first semester, Town & Gown worked with him, watching him closely, supporting him but also holding him to account. Now he's about to graduate, with a GPA in mechanical engineering comfortably north of 3.0.


About the USC Marshall School of Business
Consistently ranked among the nation's premier schools, USC Marshall is internationally recognized for its emphasis on entrepreneurship and innovation, social responsibility and path-breaking research. Located in the heart of Los Angeles, one of the world's leading business centers and the U.S. gateway to the Pacific Rim, Marshall offers its 5,700-plus undergraduate and graduate students a unique world view and impressive global experiential opportunities. With an alumni community spanning 123 countries, USC Marshall students join a worldwide community of thought leaders who are redefining the way business works.