Private universities, in order to succeed, must be risk takers--not just for any one university, but for the good of the country and the world. That's what George T. Scharffenberger, chairman of USC's board of trustees and a man who logs 500,000 miles annually traveling, told the 800 assembled the other evening for black-tie festivities at Cromwell Field on the campus.
With that, Carl E. Hartnack, chairman of the Leadership for the 21st Century national fund-raising campaign, revealed that USC is engaged officially in a drive to raise $557 million by 1990--the largest campaign in the history of higher education. Footnote to that, however: USC's campaign is the largest announced to date. Columbia is closing out a $500-million campaign; Johns Hopkins announced a $450-million campaign in 1984, and Stanford, reportedly, is trying to figure out a discreet way to campaign for $1 billion.
It all brought fireworks to the eyes (a magnificent array of whirls and swirls and the USC logo emblazoned in the sky for a finale), music to the ears (Arthur C. Bartner directing the USC Trojan Marching Band), food for thought (Rococo Custom Catering's inevitable feast), and pomp (the USC Naval ROTC midshipman officers held a sword arch for the grand entrance of guests).
But, the piece de resistance came when Hartnack announced that Gen. and Mrs. William Lyon had decided to present USC with $6.5 million. Lyon is the Orange County home builder (the largest in California) and the chairman and chief executive of AirCal. He was chief of the Air Force Reserve between 1975-79, and he attended USC in 1941, went to war, returned in 1946, was a commercial pilot, returned to duty in the Korean War, then became a contractor. He's a man who answers a question directly, and is also excited about his efforts to help build Orangewood, a home for abused and abandoned children) and his efforts to help with Rancho Margarita, a Catholic high school, even though he's not a Catholic.
His talented wife, Willa Dean ("My grandmother named me for a schoolteacher"), involved, too, in home-building, was at his side, wearing a Galanos black-and-white suit and David Webb black enamel and diamond necklace and earrings.
USC President James Zumberge talked about surpassing the goal; already $207 million has been raised in gifts and pledges.
Lots of USC trustees were in the crowd, including Dr. Edward Zapanta and his wife, Norene, who sat with Dr. Cornelius Pings and his wife, Marjorie, and with John Davis Jr., president of the Alumni Assn., and his wife, Alice. More were Jack and Betty Horton, John and Pam King, Kathleen and Tom McCarthy, the Fred W. O'Greens, the Ronald S. Orrs, Jane Hoffman Popovich and Kris Popovich, Lorna and Charles Reed.
David Wolper, there with his pretty wife, Gloria, told the crowd: "In 1940 (when he was a student), we didn't have sexual freedom; we had a winning football team." The crowd seemed to appreciate that.
Margie Grossman was in the black-and-white dotted Swiss dress she once wore to a Mayfield prom. Suzy Crowell wore her Cahill white Las Madrinas debutante dress with satin and seed pearls. Harriet Plunkett was in "perfect rhinestones" and husband, Bill, in her father's 1920s black vest. Tillie Collins was a mother superior, running about putting safety pins in gowns where too much decolletage was revealed; Debby Hollingsworth was one of her victims. Sue Burnett wore a 1925 Patou with a headband.
Patty Burschinger donned a bridesmaid's dress of quarter-century old vintage. Maxine Havens wore her gown when she was a princess at the Carnival Ball in Memphis--and her husband, Jack, was her escort. Kaholyn McKissick wore her pretty tulle prom dress from Anna Head School. Co-chairman Sallie Colmery, there with husband, Harry, was in a summer formal (they won the silent auction bid for Peggy Phelps' condo at Sun Valley) and co-chair Katie Tuerk was in the prettiest peau de soie tissue taffeta dancing a jig all evening with physical fitness expert George Tuerk.
Dr. Allen Mathies Jr., president and chief executive officer of Huntington Memorial Hospital, and his wife, Weta, were especially pleased, because this "senior prom" was the first major fund-raiser for the hospital, and it went well--more than $210,000 net.
It was a night for Clark Keen and the Twist, the Huntington Hop, the Hokey Pokey, the Charleston, even "Goodnight Sweetheart."