Veteran Marine, USC Marshall School of Business alumnus and USC Lifetime Trustee William “Bill” Schoen ’60, MBA ’63 was honored with the Semper Fidelis Award from the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation at the 33rd Annual National Capital Area Celebratory Gala in June.
According to the Foundation, “In the spirit of the award’s meaning, ‘always faithful,’ Schoen was commemorated for his many contributions to the Marine Corps community and Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation’s mission to empower Marine children in their pursuit for a higher education.”
“The goal is to empower recipients to thrive and encourage them to better their lives by succeeding in reaching their goals. Equally important is for each recipient to know that the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation is there to provide help with the resources they need. Once a Marine, always a Marine,” said Schoen, who served from 1953 to 1961. Schoen is also a member of the Founders’ Group of the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation and the Advisory Cabinet of the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation’s American Patriots Campaign.
“At USC, I discovered an adventure in learning. And the Marine Corps taught me the discipline to concentrate on my goals.”—Bill Schoen '60, MBA '63, USC Lifetime Trustee.
Established in 1962, the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation is the nation's oldest and largest provider of need-based scholarships for military children. Since its inception, the Foundation has provided more than 40,000 scholarships valued at nearly $125 million to the children of Marines and Navy Corpsmen.
Schoen’s lifelong commitment to veterans and to higher education is evident in the work of the Schoen Charitable Foundation. In addition to the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation, the Schoen Charitable Foundation supports several other organizations that support veterans, wounded warriors and children of those killed in action, as well as a variety of youth- and family-oriented initiatives, including the USC Neighborhood Academic Initiative.
The Schoen Family Scholarship Program for Veterans Endowment at USC is one of the endowments created by the Schoen Charitable Foundation specifically to help veterans pursue higher education. Established in 1986, the program aids Armed Forces veterans seeking undergraduate and graduate degrees at the USC Marshall School of Business, the Viterbi School of Engineering and the Keck School of Medicine.
In 2012, he committed an additional $10 million, to grow the Schoen Family Scholarship Fund to $16 million. To date, the endowment has provided financial support to more than 300 veterans.
The Value of an Education
Schoen knows first-hand the value of financial support for veterans’ education. He personally received a small scholarship, in addition to aid under the GI bill, to attend USC. The former Marine platoon sergeant also worked full-time to support a young family while studying at USC Marshall.
“For me it was very important to establish this valuable program at USC,” Schoen said in a recent phone conversation. “I thought this was a good way to give back to veterans for all they gave up in protecting our country.”
Once a Marine and a Trojan…
The Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation gala brought together more than 300 guests, including senior leaders of the Marine Corps, Members of Congress, Washington Dignitaries and scholarship award recipients. At the podium, Schoen shared a life story that emphasized why he wanted to give back to veterans and their families and help them pursue higher education.
“I was the smart aleck who dropped out of school at 15—my parents went berserk! — but altering my birth certificate to become a Marine may be one of the best things that I’ve ever done in my life,” he said, explaining that at 17, he didn’t meet the minimum age of 18 to enroll.
“The Marine Corps opened my eyes to the endless possibilities available through hard work, dedication, sacrifice, honor. This is one of the reasons that supporting other Marines and the Marine Corps in such an integral way is part of my life,” Schoen said, adding that the Marine Corps developed his leadership skills, kindled a desire for education and sparked a goal to excel as a corporate leader.
His experience in higher education at USC was also an inspiration for his philanthropy. He was the first in his family to graduate high school and college. “[At USC, I] discovered an adventure in learning,” Schoen said, “and the Marine Corps taught [me] the discipline to concentrate on [my] goals.”
Indeed, Schoen achieved his goal of becoming a CEO when he founded Health Management Associates Inc. in 1985. During his 28-year tenure as chairman of the board and CEO of the Florida-based corporation, which owned, leased and managed a network of 73 acute care and psychiatric hospitals, Health Management Associates Inc. became a Fortune 500 company.
A proud supporter of his alma mater, Schoen has served on the USC Board of Trustees since 2005, and is a member of the USC Marshall Board of Leaders.
In 2016, in recognition of his leadership and philanthropy, the USC Alumni Association honored Schoen with the Asa V. Call Alumni Achievement Award, its highest honor for alumni.
At the award ceremony, Schoen shared his secret to success: “The harder I work, the luckier I get.”