The Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California today (May 9) announced an initiative to raise $400 million for the school.
In an interview with Poets&Quants, Marshall Dean James G. Ellis said that the largest chunk of the money–some $200 million–will be used to support students with scholarships. “With all the tuition increases and rises in student debt, we want to make sure we can get the best students and then insure that they don’t walk out of here with huge debt loads,” Ellis said.
Another $100 million of the money will be used for facilities, to construct a fifth business school building to house undergraduate classrooms and to upgrade the existing four buildings. That building will be named after undergraduate alum and USC trustee Frank J. Fertitta III and his wife, Jill. Fertitta, a 1984 graduate, is the chairman and CEO of Las Vegas-based Fertitta Entertainment and Station Casinos. He and his brother, Lorenzo Fertitta, built the company that is the source of their fortune.
The remaining $100 million will go to programming, including adding endowed chairs for faculty. Ellis said that the school has raised nearly half of the $400 million goal. Asked about the difficulty of fundraising now, Ellis said, “It’s a form of sales and marketing. When you have a great product, it’s easy to sell. The hardest part is just the amount of time it takes. You have people in all different phases of cultivation, whether you are just meeting them or have been working with them for years. You just don’t walk into someone’s office and say, ‘Hi I’m Jim, and I need five million bucks. It’s a lot of dialogue and slowly bringing them into the fold.”
Marshall thus becomes the latest in a series major business schools attempting to raise hundreds of millions. Columbia Business School has raised $460 million toward the $600 million cost for the school’s new business school campus which is not expected to open until early 2018. Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management has raised $155 million toward a $350 million capital campaign that will help to finance a new $250 million building expected to open in the fall of 2016. Harvard Business School is still in the quiet phase of a campaign that could raise a record $1 billion.
The Marshall initiative is part of The Campaign for the University of Southern California, a multi-year effort to secure $6 billion or more in private philanthropy to advance USC’s academic priorities and expand its positive impact on the community and world.
The school’s fundraising drive was kicked off with a gala on May 8 that drew some 300 donors, friends, faculty, administrators, and students to Warner Bros. Studio, where they were welcomed by Kevin Tsujihara, a 1986 alum who is CEO of Warner Bros. Entertainment and host of the event.
At the event, USC President C. L. Max Nikias spoke of Marshall’s legacy and its deep ties to the City of Los Angeles and the global business community.
“For more than 90 years, the Marshall School has been a dynamic cornerstone of USC. The roots of its entrepreneurial DNA can be traced back to USC’s chief founder, Robert Maclay Widney, who is also considered the chief architect of modern Los Angeles. Today that entrepreneurial spirit is carried on by the school’s students, faculty, and alumni, who take what is taught in the classrooms at USC into boardrooms and businesses around the world,” Nikias said.
USC Marshall Dean James G. Ellis set the tone of the evening speaking of Marshall’s mission and trajectory, “We are altering the business landscape across Southern California and beyond.”
Fertitta attributed his success to USC Marshall, saying his education gave him the tools to help their companies grow. Fertitta noted, “We are now attracting the best and brightest from around the world and are creating the international business leaders of tomorrow.”
Attendees also heard a keynote speech by Thomas Barrack Jr., ’69, USC Trustee and CEO of Los Angeles-based Colony Capital LLC, who recalled the moment when USC and Marshall changed his life—when he attended one of the school’s business communications classes. Barrack said, “My life would be totally different if I didn’t have a Trojan education.”
Barrack discussed his career trajectory and marveled at the “magic” of the Trojan Family. Comparing the university to a piece made of rare and precious jewels, Barrack said, “The faculty are diamonds, the students—rubies, and the administration—emeralds, all held together by a seamless chain of global alumni.”