As Associate Professor John James (Jack) Barcal tells the story, he and his late wife, Carol, came to USC’s Accounting School on a happenstance 50 years ago when he was an attorney and partner at the law firm of Willis, Butler & Scheifly. Little did they know that the senior partner, Arthur B. Willis, “requesting” that Barcal teach a Partnership Taxation class in 1973 would lead to a professorship and a lifelong relationship with the University.
Through his teaching, mentoring and service, Barcal became a beloved and respected member of the faculty at the USC Leventhal School of Accounting, earning numerous honors along the way — from the USC School of Accounting Teaching Excellence Award in 1979 to the MBT Diamond Teaching Award in 2017 and 2019. Involved in fundraising efforts for the school since 1975, Barcal said his love for USC became part of a plan when he and Carol endowed the Barcal Family Scholarship in 2000.
Now, the recipient of the USC Leventhal School of Accounting Distinguished Leadership and Service Award, Barcal continues his legacy with the establishment of the John J. and Carol A. Barcal Chair in Taxation.
Originating with a gift from Barcal and Carol in 2015, the endowed faculty chair brought generous contributions from former students Karl Swaidan (’80, MBT '82, JD '83), former managing partner of Hahn and Hahn, and Phil Holthouse ('81, MBT '86,) of Holthouse, Carlin and Van Tright, both of whom also encouraged others to donate. A new gift bequeathed by Carol, who recently passed away, ensured that the chair is now fully funded.
“It was natural after 49-plus years of teaching to want the continued teaching of taxation to find the best and brightest professors. And what attracts the best and brightest? A chair,” Barcal said from home just hours before his evening Family Wealth Preservation class in the Master of Business Taxation (MBT) program.
“For the Barcal family, this chair means the continued legacy of teaching the tough stuff and inspiring others to find the beauty in taxation,” he added. “When you believe in what you teach, you want it to continue and flourish.”
“For the Barcal family, this chair means the continued legacy of teaching the tough stuff and inspiring others to find the beauty in taxation. When you believe in what you teach, you want it to continue and flourish.”—Jack Barcal, Associate Professor of Accounting
“Jack and Carol Barcal previously established the Barcal Family Endowed Scholarship fund and now, with this tremendous gift, the John J. and Carol A. Barcal Chair in Taxation assures their legacy at USC,” said USC Leventhal Dean William W. Holder. “Endowed chairs are of exceptional importance in recruiting and retaining world-class faculty and are, therefore, essential to our continuing pursuit of excellence in education. We are deeply grateful for Jack’s continuing generosity which will benefit future generations of Trojan faculty and students.”
The Barcals: A Trojan Family
An attorney and CPA with a bachelor's in accounting from DePaul University and a law degree from Stanford, Barcal started his career in tax law at Willis, Butler and Scheifly, where he was attorney and partner between 1968 and 1975. Based on the reputation of Willis, who authored “Willis on Partnership Taxation,” the premier work on the subject, USC approached the firm about teaching. “Arthur felt that this opportunity would be a perfect opportunity — for me,” said Barcal, who had worked with Willis on his book. Despite his concern about leading a classroom where many of the students were practicing CPAs and older than he was, Carol encouraged him to give teaching a try. “Carol was right as usual,” he said.
“Jack Barcal is truly an outstanding educator in the fullest sense of that phrase,” Dean Holder said. “Over the years, I have come to admire him for his many tremendous contributions, and each year my admiration grows. His classroom teaching, mentoring activities, generosity and sharing of time and talent are legendary. Former students consistently sing his praises, and his devotion to USC is unparalleled.”
An expert in taxation, estate planning, probate, trusts, estates and wills, and tax law, Barcal served as director of the MBT program at USC Leventhal and has been a regular presenter at the Trust and Estate Conference at the USC Gould School of Law over the years. He served as chairman of the Death and Gift Tax Section and the Inheritance Tax Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association and has consulted for a variety of entities, families and individuals.
Barcal’s philanthropy includes sponsoring the Leventhal Annual Dinner since 1980 and contributing to endowed scholarships. His giving extends to the USC Gould School of Law and the USC Men’s Tennis Team.
Barcal and Carol’s plan to support the study of taxation began with the establishment of the Barcal Family Endowed Scholarship, which provides tuition assistance to outstanding full-time students in taxation. Even earlier, in 1993, they had established the Richard L. Panich Memorial Scholarship Fund with an initial gift and encouraged others to contribute in honor of a fellow Leventhal professor who had died in a tragic accident.
Barcal had earned scholarships for both his undergraduate studies at DePaul University (where he and Carol met) and Stanford Law School. “As a family, we understood the need and value of scholarships to their recipients as well as passing on our own good fortunate when we were able,” he said.
All three of Barcal and Carol’s daughters attended USC: one as a Dean’s Scholar, one as a College Scholar and one graduating with a degree in accounting and later an MBT.
“The Trojan Family is an important part of the Barcal family,” he said.