Funny Business with Jane Wells

Help Wanted—Please Run $4 Billion University


As most of you probably know, I have a soft spot for USC.

It's my alma mater.

It taught me many of the skills needed to be a successful journalist, and I also learned a lot of about life there.

For nearly two decades the university has been led by Dr. Steven Sample, who is retiring. During his tenure, the school—which now boasts a student body of 34,000 students, half of them at the postgraduate level—gained in stature academically. The freshman class this year came in with an average GPA of 4.2 (don't get me started on GPA's above 4.0) and an average SAT of 2068, or 1379 based on the older model.

USC is the largest private employer in Los Angeles, with an endowment worth $4 billion. You'd think being "Top Trojan" would be a plum job.

Wall Street Journal

So why is USC taking out half-page ads in the Wall Street Journal? Looking for a Wall Street CEO?

(Ken Lewis could apply as soon as Bank of America finds a replacement—hey, maybe BofA should take out half-page ads!)

Are they advertising for legal reasons? Having a hard time finding applicants? The ads also showed up in the Los Angeles Times.

"The president is the chief executive officer of the university," says the ad. "The annual operating revenues of the university are approximately $2.7 billion, which includes $500 million in annual support for sponsored research." The ad says the school's most recent fundraising drive brought in nearly $3 billion. "Slightly more than half...came from non-USC alumni."

I emailed the university to ask why it felt the need to take out advertising. "Typically in the past we've taken the step of advertising top-level openings to cast a wide net," wrote James Grant, Executive Director for USC Media Relations. "We also see it as an opportunity to broaden understanding of USC and its mission."

Maybe I should apply.

"Nominations and applications for this position will be considered as they are received up until the time the trustees have named a new president," says the ad, which then tells you to send resumes to R. William Fun & Dallas, Texas. Texas??!!! That hurts. I'm still not over the Rose Bowl loss in 2006...

Questions? Comments? Funny Stories? Email