I was a poor kid. I was able to attend USC only because of the academic scholarship I received. I felt very grateful for that essential support and wanted to find a way someday to give something back to the Trojan family. But before I got to where I could fulfill this commitment, USC stepped up for me yet again.
After graduating with a degree in accounting, magna cum laude and Beta Gamma Sigma, I was excited to pursue an MBA at the University of Chicago. But a sudden family complication developed just weeks before I was to leave for Chicago and required the resources I had set aside for school. However, upon learning of my quandary at this late hour, Dean Himstreet of the Graduate School of Business immediately offered me a scholarship and Professor Andy Mosich found me a job teaching Intro to Accounting.
With this generous assistance, together with my part-time job at Price Waterhouse, I was able to survive financially and earn my MBA.
From there I thrived professionally. I became partner at Price Waterhouse in 1982 and went on to enjoy a 40-year career, developing the firm's practice in Saudi Arabia, leading the government contracting practice for the firm, and becoming regional risk management partner for the Western United States shortly after the start of the Enron crisis. So many fine memories, both personal and professional. And who should be my mentor? Of course, another USC grad, Bob Thorell.
Investing in USC
Clearly I would not have had the rich life I've enjoyed without that initial financial support from USC. Even now I become emotional when I think of how USC changed my life and gave me the opportunity to provide for myself and my family in ways that would not otherwise have been possible.
The first year I had spare cash, I invested in USC. I went on to become a USC Associate in 1979. Among my many contributions over the years, the most significant ones involved becoming a Lifetime Presidential Associate, a member of the athletic support group, the Committee, and a Galen Founder. I continued my connection with Marshall and Leventhal through guest lectures virtually every year, and teaching in the Master of Accounting degree program when I retired from PricewaterhouseCoopers.
I also put my five kids through USC. Four of them graduated from Marshall/Leventhal: Scott Andrew Gardiner '93, Todd Stuart Gardiner '95, Laura Marie Gardiner '13 and Katherine Elizabeth Gardiner '15. Christine Gardiner Sparling graduated from the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism in 1999 and has a master's degree from the Rossier School of Education. She is married to Jeremy Sparling, Marshall '99.
This may be a record! All five of my children are USC graduates, plus a son-in-law!
I think USC got a great return on the scholarships it gave me. But the benefits I have enjoyed are priceless. I hope my teaching and my academic and athletic gifts are an effective thanks, and I hope they can someday help another poor kid live a life he would otherwise have never imagined possible.
Little did the USC administration know what they were putting in motion with my scholarship in 1966! Our family is truly a USC Trojan family, grateful for the advantages that come with that affiliation. Great ROI for both our family and USC.
Reed S. Gardiner '70, MBA '71
2005 Leventhal Beta Alpha Psi Outstanding Alumnus
Marshall Thought Box:
"I think USC got a great return on the scholarships it gave me. But the benefits I have enjoyed are priceless."
Reed S. Gardiner