The Leventhal Gift
In 1996, the University of Southern California renamed its School of Accounting the Elaine and Kenneth Leventhal School of Accounting in recognition of the Leventhals' support to the school and to the university. Kenneth Merchant, dean of the newly named accounting school, said: "Mr. Leventhal is a giant in the accounting industry, and we are honored to have the names Elaine and Kenneth Leventhal associated with our school. The Leventhals' gift is a tremendous vote of confidence in what we do here."
Kenneth Leventhal, founder of Kenneth Leventhal & Co., is a member of the USC board of trustees and chairs the university's Building on Excellence campaign to raise $1 billion by the year 2000. The Leventhals pledge of $15 million to the School of Accounting goes to further that goal.
The USC School of Accounting is an integral part of the USC School of Business Administration, the oldest business school in Southern California. "The USC School of Accounting consistently ranks among the top five in the nation," states Randolph W. Westerfield, former dean of the USC business school. "The Leventhals' gift will allow us to make an investment in the information technologies that are transforming the accounting profession and will thus enable us to forge ahead as one of the best academic and professional accounting programs in the country. The gift will also significantly enhance the stature of the School of Business Administration."
Leventhal said he likes working with USC because the university gives him an opportunity to effect meaningful change. "At a private institution like USC, you can make a difference," he said. "Here at USC, I can work to improve society as a whole by helping an effective school to become even more effective. I can help accounting students receive an education that develops the skills and knowledge and vision they need to become the accounting professionals of tomorrow."
Leventhal knows what it takes to make a successful accountant and a top-notch accounting firm. Shortly after earning his accounting degree at UCLA in 1949, he founded an accounting firm in his South Shenandoah Street apartment in Los Angeles. Over the years, Kenneth Leventhal & Co. grew to be one of the world's top accounting firms. Specializing in complex real estate situations, the certified accounting firm reported revenues for fiscal year 1994 at $195 million. When it merged with Ernst & Young in June 1995, Kenneth Leventhal & Co. was the ninth largest CPA firm in the United States and had 13 offices nationwide. Clark Kenneth Leventhal & Co., the firm's international affiliate, was the 15th largest in the world.
The firm Leventhal founded is now an Ernst & Young division known as the E&Y Kenneth Leventhal Real Estate Group. Formerly chairman and co-managing partner, Leventhal currently holds the title chairman emeritus, but he still works full-time at the Los Angeles-based E&Y division. "I do the same thing as before, but not the administrative work," he said.
Although Kenneth Leventhal graduated from UCLA and taught there to the mid-1970s, he turned his support to USC when his alma mater discontinued its accounting degree program.
Elaine Leventhal, who graduated from UCLA with a bachelor's degree in history, earned a master of liberal arts degree from the USC Graduate School in 1989. Another long-time volunteer and contributor to the university, she is a board member of the Medical Faculty Women's Association Research Fund and The Doheny Eye Institute. Currently she serves as president of the Friends of the USC Libraries. She is a trustee of the Los Angeles Museum of Natural History and the International Students Center at UCLA.
Last September, the School of Accounting's undergraduate program was ranked among the top five in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. For the last 14 years, the school's programs have ranked among the top five in the annual Public Accounting Report survey. Both its undergraduate and graduate programs ranked fourth in the 1995 poll conducted by the authoritative publication of the accounting profession. Kenneth Leventhal is a long-time supporter of the School of Accounting-his financial contributions having provided the impetus for the school's founding in 1979.