USC, Then and Now

Thank you for the recent Los Angeles Times Magazine insert featuring President Sample (Winter 2000). I have to admit that I was among the early cynics when he first came to campus.
As the L.A. Times article shows, Dr. Sample has done an amazing job at the helm in this first decade of effort. True, he doesn’t deserve all of the credit, but his leadership has been remarkable and deserving of applause. Together with the help of everyone that loves USC, Dr. Sample will no doubt continue to make it one of the finest institutions in the nation.
My only regret is that it seems evident that Dr. Sample has never strapped on a pair of shoulder pads or even perhaps played any sport competitively. If he had, then perhaps he would appreciate how much sports, especially football, is to the community and USC’s reputation. For better or worse, athletic success will and still garners more positive press, more donor activity and more awareness of USC as a successful institution than any other activity or academic achievement. It’s really that simple.

Eduardo Leaton Jr. ’93, JD ’96
Los Angeles, CA

The Los Angeles Times Magazine printed in its 17 September issue, “Something phenomenal is happening at USC: The school is becoming a first-rate academic institution.” Yes, yes, yes! Finally academia is the final answer at USC. The sports program has been delegated to some other position; for proof, check out this year’s football team.

Jay Jacobs ’53
Kenwood, CA

To praise and celebrate the sizzling “hot” new USC (Winter 2000, “When You’re Hot, You’re Trojan,” p. 22 and “President’s Page,” p. 5), is it really necessary to denigrate the old and no doubt “cooler” USC?
Amid the heady raptures of justifiably crowing about USC’s contemporary success in getting high-temperature accolades from Time/Princeton Review and Newsweek/Kaplan Guide, you seem bent on making the current peaks higher by contemptuously lowering the past with unchallenged quotes such as “jock school” and the “University of Second Choice.” Frankly, I’m fed up with such gratuitous and ill-informed insults; and if dueling wasn’t illegal and I wasn’t nervous, I’d challenge everybody to a duel.
When I came to USC in 1947, it was my University of First Choice, and to be a student there I had to have an NROTC scholarship and concomitantly three part-time jobs. For me and most of the people I knew, there was nothing jock-schoolish, playboyish or playgirlish about our USC. I attended half of one football game during my four years, because the Navy marched at halftime of a Notre Dame game. Don’t know who won. After we marched, I left to go to work.
Many of my classmates, men and women, were World War II veterans; and they were serious about just one thing: education, the more and the faster the better. If we were in a university playpen, it was a playpen where intensely hard work was the essential norm.
Sincere and proud congratulations to the USC of the third millennium for splendid accomplishments. But don’t strain your kazoo by bragging excessively about the present at the expense of the past. The past is prologue. Whatever USC is now, the whole of the past brought it here.
Concerning that past, it was majestic to revisit Dr. Frank Baxter in Alumni News (“Glimpses of History,” p. 65) to be reminded that he was a “rough man with grades,” and to remember that I pulled A’s in two of his Shakespeare classes at the midpoint of the century prior to this one.

Roy Meador ’51
Ann Arbor, MI

I have never accepted the theory that USC was the school of second choice. It was my first choice. I graduated cum laude witha B.S. in physics and went on to UC Berkeley, where I received a Ph.D. in physics in 1967. I have had a distinguished career and earned an international reputation in my field.
I am pleased to hear that USC is coming out from behind the silly title “Univer-sity for Spoiled Children.” It was never deserved. I had to pay my own way without help from my family. I received no scholarship. I lived adjacent to the campus with other students in similar circumstances.

G. Roger Gathers ’60
Pleasanton, CA


Yaba-Daba-Doo

I am an ’SC graduate and, as a music major, I certainly devoured your last issue (Winter 2000, “Scoring Points,” p. 24). I’ve been fortunate to have worked with some of the composers in Inga Kiderra’s marvelous “composition,” including Buddy Baker and David Raksin. The USC library has my two books, Private Lessons for Clarinet and Private Lessons for Flute, published by Mel Bay.
There is one composer you didn’t mention whose music is heard all over the world. Just turn on the TV and you’ll hear the music of the late Hoyt Curtin MA ’48. Jump into a taxi in Spain and say: “Yaba-daba-do,” and the driver shouts: “Scooby-dooby-doo.” I was very lucky to have recorded over 45 years all the Hanna-Barbera cartoons with Hoyt. I’m sure you have seen the “Flint-stones,” “Yogi Bear,” etc. It’s really an endless list. I hope in a future issue Hoyt Curtin’s credits can be mentioned.

Andreas (Andy) Kostelas ’61
San Pedro, CA


The Best of Bennis

I was thrilled to see Dr. Warren Bennis grace the cover of your fall issue (Autumn 2000, “Leading Man,” p. 40). Few people, at USC or anywhere else, have made as much of an impact on my life or so many others as has Dr. Bennis.
As a member of the inaugural leadership class, I was lucky enough to get to know Dr. Bennis while a student at USC and to have the opportunity to develop a richer relationship with such an amazing man.
Like many students at USC and really everywhere else, I approached my last year of college with a certain hesitancy, uncertain of the direction I wanted to follow. While I knew that I had the curiosity for lifelong learning, my focus was blurred. When I enrolled in the leadership class, I had applied to law school, figuring that a law degree would help me to discover how I truly wanted to spend my professional life. As a student of political science, it seemed the next logical step on a well-trodden path.
I remember entering the classroom, my first time entering the business school, filled with honor, but also a slight degree of trepidation. The class had been application based; I was surrounded by students I had worked with on a variety of projects and knew in so many different contexts.
Having read On Becoming A Leader, quite frankly, I found it hard to imagine that the writer could be as filled with optimism and lacking in cynicism as Dr. Bennis seemed to be. And, yet, in person he was. I knew that I wanted to know this man, to discover how he, unlike so many of his peers, retained his idealism through the years of his life, which, I was so often told, dissipates with time and experience.
For Dr. Bennis, it simply had not. It is not as if he views the world through rose-colored glasses, but only that he finds room for change and hope with both every setback and every success. And, almost a decade out of college, I still strive, sometimes successfully, often not, to emulate his progressivism in thought, method and even lifestyle.
I last saw Dr. Bennis a few years ago in London. Having confided in him that I felt uncertain of my career path to law school, he, along with another favorite professor, Dr. Alison Renteln JD ’91, recommended that I apply to the London School of Economics, so that I might study ethnic conflict and negotiation. Despite the few years that had passed, little had changed with Dr. Bennis. As I greeted him on the street with a hug and kiss on the cheek, I asked him, “So, Dr. Bennis, how are you?” And he responded, “Sarah, I am in my 70s, and I have never been happier and never been better!” Pure quintessential Dr. Bennis, which truly gives hope to the rest us.
I have learned so much from Dr. Bennis; his impact on me and so many other students is not only academic, but also about the way we look at the world. I can’t thank USC enough for giving me the opportunity to be exposed to a world view that I simply have not run across anywhere else.

Sarah Szalavitz ’96
Monroe, NY

Thanks for the article on Warren Bennis. I read it and have gone back to refer to it several times. I knew of him but did not know all about him. How lucky we are to have both Warren Bennis and Steven Sample! Let us know more about our alma mater’s treasures.

Helene Bedrosian ’57
Granada Hills, CA


Errata

The article “Mission Days Live Again, Digitally” (Winter 2000, p. 18) listed a Web site of interest (library.usc.edu/uhtbin/cgisirsi/0/0/55/30063). After attempting several versions of the address, I was unable to find the site. Please check the site address and provide a complete address.

Allan Thompson ’55
Huntington Beach, CA

Since the address for this archive changes periodically, librarian Wayne Shoaf suggests the surest way to reach the archive is through a series of links. Start at the library’s homepage (library.usc.edu), then click on the “Digital Archives” link. The bulleted item labeled “IDA-California Historical Society,” connects to the search engine for the early California photographic collection.

I appreciated and enjoyed “The Show Must Go On” (Winter 2000, p. 62), on the generous gift the Engemanns gave the university for the renovation of Dedeaux Field and the construction of a theater complex.
There is, I submit, a factual error in the story – the talented Rod Dedeaux did not become head baseball coach in 1942, but only in 1949 with the sudden death of Sam Barry, head baseball and basketball coach. Rod and Sam were a real team in developing those championship teams of the late 1940s.

Cliff Dektar ’50
North Hollywood, CA

Jim Perry ’64, assistant athletic director, replies: Actually, Rod Dedeaux did become USC’s head baseball coach in 1942 when Sam Barry entered the Navy during World War II. Dedeaux continued to serve as USC’s sole head coach until Barry returned in 1946. The two then worked together for five seasons (1946-50), in effect as co-head coaches, until Barry died in the fall of 1950. Rod took over as sole head coach again for the 1951 season and coached the Trojans through 1986.

I just received my copy of the magazine. I always enjoy the articles and updates on people and classmates from the past. I noticed the passing of Coach Harry Edelson ’30 (Winter 2000, “Deaths,” p. 76) and your comments that he was the former football coach at Fremont High School. I attended Los Angeles High School from 1950 through 1953, and then went on to USC. Coach Edelson was football coach of the L.A. High varsity team during at least one of those years. Since L.A. High was a very prestigious powerhouse in all sports during that time, I would like to have him remembered and appropriately identified with the school. Keep up the great work.

J. Ray Padden ’57
Torrance, CA

I would like to correct an item that appeared in your Winter 2000 issue (“Alumni News,” p. 65) crediting Jim Hardy ’46 with catching three touchdown passes for USC in the l944 Rose Bowl game. Jim never caught any passes in that game. He threw three touchdown passes. He was a quarterback.

Lloyd Peyton ’52
Los Angeles, CA

We stand corrected. And while we’re at it, we’d like to set the record straight on another item in this issue. In a photo caption on page 75, we misidentified George and Jeanne Niotta. They are the brother and sister-in-law of the late Michael Niotta, not his parents, and Jeanne’s name was misspelled.


Notice Board

Please join us for the 21st annual Swim With Mike swim-a-thon on April 21, 2001, at USC’s McDonald’s Swim Stadium. Swim With Mike is an annual event that raises money for the USC Physically Challenged Athletes Scholarship Fund. It is named for Mike Nyeholt ’78, a three-time All-American swimmer who was paralyzed following a motorcycle accident in January 1981. Friends and teammates held the first swim to raise money to help purchase a specially equipped van for him. The first swim raised $58,000, far exceeding the purchase price of the van. At Mike’s suggestion, the extra money was used to create the Physically Challenged Athletes Scholarship Fund, the only one of its kind in America. The event has since raised more than $3 million and provided more than 35 scholarships.
For details on contributing to Swim With Mike, or information on swimming, please call (213) 740-4155.

Ron Orr ’79
Associate Athletic Director
Campus

 


 

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