LISA STEEN PROCTOR
USC's business school has struggled for decades to win national recognition, but last week it scored an undeniable coup a $35 million endowment from electronics tycoon Gordon S. Marshall, the largest donation ever to a business school.
The gift means that the department will have a new name the Gordon S. Marshall School of Business. But USC officials hope that it will also mean more.
"With this endowment, plus our location in L.A., plus the current strength of the international business program, this program could emerge as the best international business school in the world," said USC President Steven B. Sample.
Sample acknowledges that the university has a ways to go in winning recognition.
U.S. News & World Report's most recent rankings placed USC's undergraduate and graduate programs at 13th and 26th, respectively.
And the school did not even earn a spot on Business Week's 1996 rankings of the top 25 MBA programs.
As a first step, the donation by Marshall will bring the university some visibility, said Michael Duffy, Associate Dean of the Business School's Master's Programs.
"This will overcome some of the problems all West Coast institutions have with gaining attention from the national media. . . . The gift and the attention given as a result of the gift make a quantum leap for us in terms of awareness," said Duffy.
Across town at UCLA's Anderson Graduate School of Management, Dean William Pierskalla noted the difficulty in moving up in the national rankings.
"The endowment will definitely help a lot, but it's always a struggle to come up in the national rankings. By making it an endowment, the money can be used to establish some chaired professorships, making it easier to get top professors," he said.
"An endowment of that size definitely has the potential to put USC in a strong position vis-a-vis its position today," said Nicole Chestang, Vice President of the Graduate Management Admission Council.
"The majority of top schools have the money to do the things necessary to remain at the top USC may now also have that kind of money," she said.
The endowment will be used to attract faculty and launch an ambitious overseas business program, which includes sending faculty and the entire MBA first year class abroad for international study.
Marshall made his fortune by founding Marshall Industries, one of the nation's largest distributors of industrial electronic components. He made the donation last month, and it was announced last week as part of USC's Building on Excellence campaign to raise $1 billion by the year 2000.
"Realizing that I had the ability to do it, I wanted to support the school's billion dollar effort," said Marshall. "I decided it was better to do it while I can enjoy it rather than after I'm gone."
Sample noted that the endowment bodes well for the school.
"I don't know if it will affect the ranking immediately but over the next five to six years, it should have an enormous effect on ranking. It should allow us to move ahead in some programs where we are not in the top 10 and allow us to get stronger in those areas where we are currently in the top 10," he said.
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