Since its founding in 1920, the USC Marshall School of Business has capitalized on its location in Los Angeles—a global center for arts, technology, and international trade—to shape the role, nature, and reach of business education worldwide. Embracing the high-velocity changes in business, technology, and global connectivity, the School continues to create transformative new programs for undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty, securing its place among the world’s elite business schools.
College of Commerce and Business Administration established
On January 27, 1920, the university Trustees authorized the establishment of the College of Commerce and Business Administration with an initial enrollment of just under 300 students. The school’s mission was to equip the student to have a broad outlook upon life with its demands for real service, a thorough knowledge of the principles underlying sound business activities, and a comprehensive grasp of actual business. The core principals outlined in our founding remain applicable today, including the importance of internships and maintaining strong ties to the professional community, reflected in an endorsement of the new business college by the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce: “Resolved, that the Chamber of Commerce cordially pledges its active cooperation to the University of Southern California in its efforts in the preparation of leaders to assist in meeting the vital needs of Los Angeles and the great Southwest.”
NACSB elects College of Commerce as 24th Member and first graduate degree offered
In 1922, the University of Southern California became the twenty-fourth member of the National Association of Collegiate Schools of Business (now known as AACSB), a global nonprofit organization devoted to the advancement of management education that has grown to more than 600 member institutions. In granting admission to the young institution, NACSB noted: “The College of Commerce and Business Administration is situated in one of the world’s largest industrial, shopping, and commercial centers, affording excellent opportunities for students to observe first-hand business practices in the various fields of study.”
Accounting Building Erected
The building that now houses the Leventhal School of Accounting was built in 1926. It originally housed the School of Law and later the School of Social Work. Accounting education has been an integral part of the School of Business at USC since the school’s inception. At that time, the Department of Accounting offered a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in accounting. In 1979, the School of Accounting was established and became part of the Business School facilities. Both structures (Bridge Hall and The School of Accounting) are centerpieces not only of business history in Los Angeles, but also of architectural importance, designed by John Parkinson and his son Donald, former principals of Parkinson Field Associates, and the oldest architectural firm in Los Angeles.
Bridge Memorial Hall Erected
In 1928, Bridge Hall was built from a bequest of Dr. Norman & Mrs. Mae Manford Bridge. Dr. Bridge was a prominent Los Angeles physician and Mrs. Bridge had been a teacher in Chicago for many years before they came to Los Angeles in 1891. Although the Bridges had not been formally connected to USC in any official capacity, they both had a strong belief in the institution as evidenced by Dr. Bridge’s comments at the dedication ceremony: “My faith in it is greater than if I had a hand in its management”. Designed by notable architects, John and Donald Parkinson, the building cost $208,000 and served as the College of Commerce and Business Administration’s first campus facility. The building has adornments that reference Aeschylus’ Agamemnon (“Go forth to Troy, the eagles seemed to cry…”) with a center medallion above the main entrance that shows a hare, a snake, an eagle, and a lion cub. The south wall is adorned with an owl, the north wall a bear guarding a football and the archway above the south doors is embellished with a striking geometric pattern.
School of Business Administration and Graduate School of Business Administration established
President Topping’s “Master Plan for Enterprise and Excellence in Education” called for USC’s endowment to double by the end of the sixties. During that time, 30 new buildings were built, the university gained election to the prestigious Association of American Universities and USC received a grant from the Ford Foundation to fund the Hoover Project, which expanded the physical environment of USC from 54 acres to over 100 acres. Dr. Topping realized that Los Angeles was rapidly becoming a serious financial center and a hub for the aerospace and electronics industries. Known as the “father of modern USC”, Dr. Topping set out to establish a modern school of business. As a result both the School of Business Administration and the Graduate School of Business Administration were established in 1960.
Hoffman Hall Erected
Construction on Hoffman Hall, a gift of H. Leslie Hoffman, founder and chairman of Hoffman Electronics a defense contracting and television manufacturing company, began in 1965 and was completed and dedicated two years later. Les Hoffman was a successful entrepreneur who started several businesses while attending college. In 1941, he purchased Mission Bell Radio and shortly thereafter began supplying rescue kits to the military during WWII. Once the war was over, Les continued in the radio, TV and military business. In the early days of television, 25% of the viewers in Los Angeles were watching programs on “Hoffman Easy Vision” televisions. From 1941 until his death in 1966, Hoffman Electronics grew from three employees to 3,000 and had $50,000,000 in sales. Les believed strongly in giving back to the community and joined the USC board of trustees in 1959. He headed USC's first major campaign that raised $100,000,000. The eight-story, I.M. Pei-designed structure offered modern amenities and much-needed classroom, office, library, and auditorium space.
Milton Holman Experiential Learning Center opens
The Experiential Learning Center (ELC) was established in 1967 by faculty member Milton Holman. The ELC utilizes structured experiences that enable students to gain a greater and more comprehensive understanding of theories and their application. Experiential learning occurs when a person engages in some activity, looks back at the activity critically, abstracts some useful insight from the analysis and puts the result to work. The ELC and its mission have evolved over the years. Originally a single room known as the Management Lab, the ELC is now a major facility consisting of 18 studios that are fully equipped with state-of-the-art remote videotaping and playback equipment. The ELC maintains full-time trainers who design and conduct experiential exercises and a technical support staff who videotape activities. Over 92,000 student hours are spent at the ELC’s and the studios are utilized 98% of the time for class exercises during fall and spring semesters.
Elaine & Kenneth Leventhal endow the School of Accounting
In 1996, USC named its School of Accounting the Elaine and Kenneth Leventhal School of Accounting in recognition of the Leventhal’s support to the school and to the university. Kenneth Leventhal is the founder of Kenneth Leventhal & Co. and a USC Life Trustee. In 1995, Leventhal merged his company, a major U.S. accounting firm, with Ernst & Young. Elaine Leventhal received an undergraduate degree from UCLA and a Masters of Liberal Arts from USC. Through the years, Mrs. Leventhal has served on advisory boards and volunteer organizations. The Leventhal’s gift allowed the school to become one of the best accounting programs in the country. Kenneth Leventhal, a UCLA graduate, stated “Here at USC, I can work to improve society as a whole by helping an effective school to become even more effective.” The Leventhals chose to donate funds to USC after UCLA discontinued its accounting degree program.
Gordon S. Marshall endows the school which is renamed USC Marshall School of Business
The USC School of Business Administration became formally known as the Gordon S. Marshall School of Business in 1997. Mr. Marshall’s gift was the largest given to a business school at the time. In his speech, Mr. Marshall noted “this has been an unbelievable journey for me.” The USC alumnus and philanthropist built Marshall Industries, a worldwide distributor of electronic components, following a boyhood interest in ham radio and an instinct for business and hard work. Gordon Marshall’s goal in giving back to his alma mater through this transformational gift was to “help drive all of the things we want to accomplish.”
Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies dedicated
Lloyd Greif, MBA ‘79, president and CEO of Greif & Co. and an internationally recognized authority in the field of mergers & acquisitions and corporate finance, chose to endow the nation’s oldest integrated entrepreneurship program at USC. As a graduate of the program, Mr. Grief credits the education he received as a primary factor in his early success. Marshall’s Entrepreneurial Studies program consistently ranks near the top by nationally recognized publications. In his dedication speech, Mr. Greif stated: “The establishment of this center will give greater emphasis to the critical role of the entrepreneur in the American economy, while providing the entrepreneurs of tomorrow with the tools and inspiration to fuel their future success.”
Popovich Hall opens as school’s first dedicated graduate instructional facility
In 1999, Jane Hoffman Popovich BS ’65, a USC Trustee, and J. Kristoffer Popovich MBA ’70, BS ’65 showed their support to USC by generously providing funds to add a graduate business program building to the Marshall School’s footprint. With the building of Popovich Hall, the Popovichs are proud to carry on a tradition of supporting outstanding business education that Jane's father started with his donation and naming of Hoffman Hall. Popovich Hall is a 55,000-square foot facility designed to provide graduate business students with state of the art classrooms, technology and dedicated experiential learning space. The Popovich’s gift reflects their continuing belief that Marshall students will become tomorrow’s global leaders.
Fred V. Keenan MBA Career Resource Center dedicated
In 2006, Fred V. Keenan, founder of Keenan Supply Company, a prominent Los Angeles-based plumbing supply company, pledged financial support to endow the USC Marshall MBA Career Resource Center. The Keenan Career Resource Center is central headquarters for MBA recruiting, including internships and employment, and is home to hundreds of corporate recruiters each year. The facility features state-of-the-art interview rooms and offers lifetime career services, while promoting and delivering a comprehensive array of career management services to USC Marshall Alumni worldwide.
Society and Business Lab launched
Nobody had heard of social enterprise in 2008, when USC Marshall became the first business school to host an academic center devoted to the topic. Led by founding director Adlai Wertman, the Society and Business Lab (SBL) grew in popularity and was renamed the Brittingham Social Enterprise Lab in 2014 following a generous $5 million gift from the Brittingham Family Foundation. The BSL continues to thrive, with well-attended classes, speaker series, academic conferences and a popular specialized master’s degree program, the MS in Social Entrepreneurship.
World Bachelor in Business established
USC Marshall continues to innovate in global business education when it creates and launches the World Bachelor in Business, a unique degree program in which students study business at premier universities on three continents, earning degrees from all three. USC Marshall, in partnership with Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) and Bocconi University in Milan, Italy, matriculated its first selective cohort of 45 students in 2013…and will graduate them in 2017.
Marshall embarks on $400 million fundraising drive
The USC Marshall Initiative, a $400 million fundraising drive launched in May 2013, is tied to the Campaign for the University of Southern California, a multi-year effort to raise $6 billion or more in private philanthropy to advance USC’s academic priorities. The funds will support endowments for academic programming, student scholarships and faculty research and teaching in addition to supporting capital projects and other critical priorities. In 2017 USC president C.L. Max Nikias announced that the Campaign for USC had surpassed its goal and would continue for another five years. Marshall also met its goal, and saw record-breaking fundraising in the fiscal years since announcing the Initiative.
Office of Diversity and Inclusivity established
In 2015, USC Marshall named Debra Langford, a longtime media industry executive and Marshall alumna, was selected to lead its newly created Office of Diversity and Inclusivity. Langford partners with diversity leaders within Marshall and across the USC campus to create best practices for the university and sits on the Provost’s Committee for Diversity at USC. She is also a founding member of the Association of Business Schools Diversity Officers, an organization of the top 30 MBA programs.
Fertitta Hall opens for business
The Class of 2020 started their Marshall experience in the school’s new state-of-the-art undergraduate facility—Jill and Frank Fertitta Hall. Anchoring the southeast corner of University Park Campus, the five-story, 104,000-square-foot building broke ground less than two years previous. USC Trustee Frank Fertitta III ’84 and his wife Jill’s landmark gift for the building also established the Jill and Frank Fertitta Endowed Chair in Business Administration. Fertitta Hall provides smart classrooms, lecture halls, an interactive wall, and 50 breakout rooms for Marshall undergraduate students. The Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies occupies the 5th floor, bringing faculty and clinical mentorship closer to the many students taking entrepreneurship courses. The building also houses admission, student services, and student advising. For the first time, USC Marshall has a dedicated home for its undergraduate student population.