Dean James G. Ellis of the USC Marshall School of Business and Dean William W. Holder of the USC Leventhal School of Accounting have announced the speakers for the 2017 commencement ceremonies to be held on Friday, May 12, at the University Park campus of the University of Southern California.
Julia A. Stewart, former chairman and CEO of DineEquity, will be the speaker for the USC Marshall Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony at 11 a.m. in the Galen Center.
Dr. Sabrina Kay, serial entrepreneur and founder of Fremont College, will be the speaker at the USC Marshall Graduate Commencement Ceremony at 6:30 p.m. in the Galen Center.
Alan Fox, real estate investor, entrepreneur and best-selling author, will be the speaker at the USC Leventhal Undergraduate and Graduate Commencement Ceremony at 2 p.m. in Epstein Family Plaza.
These satellite ceremonies take place immediately after the main University ceremony, which begins at 8:30 a.m. at Alumni Memorial Park, and will individually recognize graduating students from the Marshall and Leventhal Schools.
“We hope our graduates will take inspiration from our speakers on Commencement Day,” said James G. Ellis, dean of the Marshall School of Business. “The qualities and skills evident in these three successful businesspeople are ones that our students know well from our faculty, alumni and guest speakers — and strive to emulate. Their entrepreneurial spirit, innovative drive and informed leadership are examples for us all.”
JULIA A. STEWART never guessed as a 16-year-old on the wait staff at IHOP that she would later become the company’s CEO — nor that she would be named one of Forbes magazine’s 50 Most Powerful Women.
Stewart is the former chairman and CEO of DineEquity — the world's largest full-service restaurant company, which she led the creation of in 2007 by merging Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & Bar and IHOP restaurants into a nearly $8 billion operation that serves almost 2 million customers per day. DineEquity franchises and operates more than 3,600 restaurants in 18 countries with approximately 400 franchisees and 250,000 team members worldwide.
Prior to creating DineEquity, Stewart was the CEO of IHOP, which she took to No. 1 in family dining. After acquiring Applebee's and forming DineEquity, she utilized a similar strategy to restore the Applebee's brand to No. 1 in casual dining. During her 16 years as CEO, her accomplishments included the revitalization of two brands, the creation of a purchasing co-operative and the establishment of a culture of accountability and innovation, along with a heightened awareness for social responsibility programs which included raising millions for charity.
Stewart is also a founding member of the Women’s Foodservice Forum (WFF), a hospitality industry organization dedicated to the development and advancement of women. She earned her bachelor’s degree in communications at San Diego State University.
DR. SABRINA KAY is a self-made serial entrepreneur and philanthropist. She has led a diverse professional life, starting as a fashion designer. She caught the entrepreneurial bug at a very early age, founding the Art Institute of Hollywood, and launching six more successful entrepreneurial ventures. She has served on more than 30 different charitable and civic boards.
She is founder and Chancellor of Fremont College in Cerritos, which implemented her dissertation on Professional Action Learning, a unique learning model based on collaboration and inquiry. With her leadership, Fremont College is recognized as a leader in professional education for business, technology, and healthcare programs, earning the School of Distinction Award from its accreditation commission.
Kay emigrated from South Korea to the U.S. and overcame various hardships – including learning to speak English. As a self-claimed recovering nonprofit junkie, she chairs After School All Stars, Sabrina Kay Charitable Foundation, and is a board member of various organizations representing several causes, including inner-city youth education, the arts, fashion, and humanitarian relief.
She received her doctorate degree in work-based learning leadership at the Wharton School and Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. She holds double master’s degrees: an MBA from USC Marshall and a Master of Science in higher education from the University of Pennsylvania. She is a lifetime member of the Beta Gamma Sigma Honor Society.
Alan C. Fox is a successful real estate investor, entrepreneur, philanthropist and best-selling author. He also holds four degrees from USC—in accounting, law, education and professional writing (B.S '61, LLB '64, M.S. '71 and MFA '92).
Fox started as a tax supervisor for a national CPA firm, established his own law firm and founded a commercial real estate company, ACF Property Management, in 1968, that now owns and manages more than $1.5 billion of property in 11 states.
In 1994 he founded Rattle Poetry Journal, a nationally renowned publication, featuring thought-provoking interviews with leading poets. In 1999, he founded The Frieda C. Fox Family Foundation, a nonprofit that provides funding to youth education projects.
Fox’s first book, People Tools: 54 Strategies for Building Relationships, Creating Joy and Embracing Prosperity, became a New York Times bestseller, followed by the bestselling People Tools for Business: 50 Strategies for Building Success, Creating Wealth, and Finding Happiness.
To watch the Marshall and Leventhal commencement ceremonies live, visit the USC Marshall homepage at http://www.marshall.usc.edu to be directed to the live stream.