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William Holder Retires as Dean of the Leventhal School of Accounting

William Holder Retires as Dean of the Leventhal School of Accounting

Dean Holder leaves behind a legacy of success, commitment, and compassion for the entire Leventhal community.

of William Holder.

William Holder served as Dean of the Leventhal School of Accounting for 13 years.

[USC Photo/David Sprague]

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For most of his decades-long career in academia, William W. Holder had never considered entering administration. Now, after 13 years serving as dean of the Leventhal School of Accounting, Holder is retiring, and many can’t imagine the dean’s office without him. He leaves behind a legacy of success, service, and dedication to his students, faculty, and staff.

From the first time he stepped into the dean’s office in the Leventhal building back in 2011, Holder hoped to grow the school into an world-class accounting program, offering a comprehensive education that covered the depth and breadth of the profession while still increasing accessibility for students.

“If we were going to be offering degrees in accounting, it was my position that we should strive to exhibit educational excellence in all of the major domains of the profession,” Holder said.

Holder’s tenure exceeded those goals. During his time as dean, Leventhal added more than 30 student scholarships and six endowed chairs and professorships, established new joint and progressive degrees, and maintained the school’s standing as a top 10 accounting program.

Holder’s success, however, reaches beyond a laundry list of accomplishments. His integrity, leadership, and humanity are well-known within the Marshall and Leventhal communities. He persevered through a 2018 heart valve operation and the COVID-19 pandemic, ever eager to face the challenges set before him and his colleagues.

“It has been a privilege to get to know Bill and work closely with him since my arrival in 2020,” said Marshall Dean Geoff Garrett. “His resourcefulness, commitment, and compassion have led Leventhal to the cutting edge of accounting education and transformed the lives of thousands of students, faculty, staff, and alumni. His legacy of exemplary leadership and dedicated service to USC has shone through in his excellent tenure.”

Holder’s impact ripples across generations of Leventhal students. With a deep sense of satisfaction, he often recalls alumni returning years later to wish him well, reminisce about their time at Leventhal, and express their gratitude. For Holder, who will return to the faculty next year, teaching has always been at the forefront.

“It’s always great to get back in the classroom. Our students are terrific. I enjoy [teaching] more than anything,” Holder said. “It’s just wonderful to see that professional growth and that increase in knowledge, skill, and abilities that develop in these people.”

One of these alums, Joe Ucuzoglu ’97, Deloitte Global CEO, recalls the effect Holder and Leventhal left on him nearly 30 years ago.

“Leventhal has been foundational to my entire career, providing an unrivaled education and instilling a mindset of curiosity and life-long learning,” said Ucuzoglu. “It is my great privilege and honor not only to have studied under Bill Holder, but also to call him a mentor and dear friend. As dean, he has navigated Leventhal through a time of significant complexity and transformation. It is wonderful that in his transition back to the classroom, students will continue to benefit from his knowledge and passion for teaching. I am confident that he will continue to help shape the bright minds of the future of this wonderful profession for years to come.”

It’s been my good fortune to come to USC when I got the opportunity and my good sense to stay here once I could.

— William Holder

Leventhal Dean

During his 13 years as Leventhal’s dean and 45 years at USC, Holder has brought unparalleled leadership acumen, teaching excellence, and academic expertise to the school. His research has been published in the Journal of Accountancy, Accounting Review, Financial Executive, CPA Journal, and many more.

He has written numerous books and received multiple awards, including the Gold Medal Award for Distinguished Service and the Distinguished Achievement in Accounting Education Award, both from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). In 2001 and 2002, Accounting Today named Holder one of the 100 most influential people in the accounting profession.

“Bill Holder’s expertise and leadership has transformed the Leventhal School into a global brand, known for being an innovator in the areas of accounting education and critical research,” said Joe Allanson, chair of the Leventhal Board of Councilors. “Through endowments and scholarships like my family’s and countless other generous benefactors, Bill has made Leventhal’s world-class accounting education more accessible than ever before. He is the definition of a Trojan.”

As the dean reflects on his time at Leventhal, he’s grateful for the people who guided and supported him over the years. Holder’s faculty, especially, astonish him with their intelligence and academic achievement.

“It’s a great privilege to be able to call these folks on the faculty colleagues,” Holder said. “There’s some remarkable world-class scholars on our faculty today. It’s a major contribution to the intellectual richness of USC. [New faculty] come here, not because of me, but because of the people they’ll get to work with.”

Patti Mills, vice dean of teaching and faculty affairs and professor of clinical accounting, has spent more than half her career under Holder’s leadership at Leventhal. In that time, Holder has played a critical role in expanding accessibility to the prestigious school.

“Dean Holder led the creation of our online Master of Business Taxation degree, opening up the opportunity for working professionals worldwide to receive a Leventhal education,” Mills said. “That decision placed Leventhal in a position to easily pivot and adapt as higher education for working professionals changed over the years, as well as allowed for greater diversity in our student population and flexibility for our students.”

For Holder as for so many others, USC has been more than just a workplace or even just a school. It’s been home. From day one, Holder says that the university has stood by him through every step of his professional journey. Now, as he looks back on his time in the dean’s office and makes the transition back to the faculty, Holder believes he couldn’t have asked for a better home.

“It’s been my good fortune to come to USC when I got the opportunity and my good sense to stay here once I could.”

A celebration of Dean William Holder’s retirement will take place on April 8 at Town & Gown.