On January 27, 1920, Trustees of the University of Southern California authorized the establishment of the College of Commerce and Business Administration, with the blessing of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, which felt strongly that the growing city and region needed its own business school to educate its up-and-coming young men.
…And women. Among the initial enrollment of just under 300 students were four up-and-coming young women, two of whom went on to graduate with the first cohort: Florence L. Walton and Louise Waltz were both proud members of the Class of 1922.
Waltz went on to marry a 1924 College of Commerce graduate, Lyman Johnson. In 1968 Waltz, a lifelong member of Beta Gamma Sigma, and her longtime husband would endow a $100,000 scholarship for undergraduate students (that's more than $700,000 in today's dollars) to thank the School for its impact on their lives and success.
Two other women, Cora Elsie Mabee and Violet Margaret Smith, were also enrolled at the time, and completed their degrees in 1923. What they went on to accomplish, however, is lost to history.
But the ambition and bravery of these four young women set a precedent: Among the 1921 undergraduate class enrolled in the College of Commerce, some 75 were women, roughly eight percent of the class.
The Marshall Difference
Fast forward 100 years. Today, women make up nearly 50 percent of the undergraduate class at the Marshall School. In 2018, Marshall made headlines by becoming the first Top-20 business school to reach gender parity in its full-time MBA class.
Marshall women are equal partners in the achievement, drive and entrepreneurial spirit the School is known for. Our female faculty are among the leading scholars in their fields. Our students break barriers—and seek to push boundaries. From hosting the first regional conference celebrating women entrepreneurs—ATHENA—to nurturing young female scholars working toward their Ph.D.’s in business, the Marshall School works to amplify women’s voices in business. Marshall was an early member of the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management and the Forte Foundation, which supports women as they pursue graduate-level business education. Women hold senior leadership positions on Marshall Dean Geoff Garrett's cabinet.
Women’s History Month
The Marshall School of Business is proud to celebrate Women’s History Month during the month of March. Along with events such as Marshall’s International Women’s Day, Friday, March 19, [Register here] we hope you’ll check our social media and news section for inspiring content featuring our alumni, faculty, staff and students. USC’s “Herstory Month” events listings feature a wealth of programs and workshops of interest to everyone.
In the meantime, enjoy some historical photos from our archives.