William W. Holder — a resident of Dover Shores, Newport Beach, the new dean of USC's Leventhal School of Accounting at the Marshall School of Business, and recipient of the Alan Casden Dean's Chair — was honored in Los Angeles on Monday.
"I grew up in a small town outside of Tulsa, Okla.," Holder shared at the Town & Gown ballroom on the USC campus, waxing nostalgic on lessons learned at his father's knee.
"My parents ran a small hotel that mainly catered to men traveling through town working on the oil rigs," he continued. "I remember men driving up to the hotel in their big Cadillacs, smoking cigars, enjoying their hard earned rewards of hard labor in the oil fields. On occasion these men asked my dad if he would barter a room for a month in exchange for an oil and mineral rights land lease on some acreage out in the country. Dad took the deal when he felt able. I learned the value of a dollar, and perhaps more importantly the methodology of the deal."
Some 50 years later, Holder still has those oil and mineral rights land leases, which his father had traded for a room.
"I will never sell them," he confided, adding, "They will go to my children, and they remain part of my father's legacy."
The young man who learned about a buck from his dad in Oklahoma grew up to become recognized as one of America's leading figures in the field of accounting and financial business practices.
Prior to his appointment as dean of the Leventhal School, Holder served USC for more than 20 years as the Ernst & Young professor of accounting as well as director of its SEC and the Financial Reporting Institute.
Named as one of the "Top 100 People" in America in the accounting profession, Holder's credentials, accolades and published papers make him an internationally sought after expert with respect to financial reporting, auditing and corporate governance.
"This day I will count among the most important in my life," Holder told his distinguished audience.
In his humble and quiet Oklahoma drawl, he paid tribute to his wife, Carolyn, and two of his children in attendance, Kathryn Holder and Marc Carlson, and his wife, Debbie.
Holder and family were presented to a formidable assemblage of academia led by Marshall School Dean James G. Ellis and his wife, Dr. Gail Ellis, joining leading faculty and administrators from most of USC's professional schools and departments. The installation ceremony was presided over by USC Provost, tax attorney and law professor Elizabeth Garrett.
Garrett elevated the significance of the occasion to a lofty status via her eloquent words recounting both the history of USC and, more significantly, the academic history associated with the enlightened funding of education by citizens of means dating back to the Renaissance in Europe.
Provost Garrett's lessons were vividly illustrated by the presence at Holder's installation of Elaine Leventhal, 94, wife of Kenneth Leventhal, 90, founding donors of the USC Leventhal School of Accounting and among America's premiere leaders in the profession. Mrs. Leventhal was escorted by son Ross Leventhal, a USC graduate and accountant based in Seattle.
Also standing shoulder to shoulder with the new Dean Holder was benefactor Alan Casden, a Beverly Hills financier and real estate developer who began his career under the tutelage of Kenneth Leventhal in the mid-20th century.
Following the induction ceremony, Garrett hosted a celebratory dinner at the Jonathan Club, Los Angeles. Distinguished guests included Dr. Frances Ayres and Lyn Ann Sterk representing the accounting school at the University of Oklahoma, Dr. Andy Mosich and his wife, Dorothy, Philip Holthouse, Dr. Jack and Carol Barcal, Scott Gilmore, James Jaeger, Susan Cimbaluk, Dennis Frankeberger, and the Herb Perlmutters, among many honored guests.
Close friends from Newport Beach attending included Nancy and Pete Tammy, Sandy and Robert Weiner, Debbie and Randy Weaver, Patricia O'Desky with her son Charley O'Desky, a USC senior escorting his girlfriend, Valor Lee, also a USC senior. Cathi Bledsoe, Kathy Schuler-Southey, Marilee Bell, Cheryl Melville and Gina Harpur were also present to honor Holder at a milestone occasion in his life.
"It is very special to be able to share such a momentous occasion in a person's life," commented Patricia O'Desky. "Few people get to realize a life goal surrounded by loving family and supportive associates."
"This was a wonderful day for Bill Holder, and for all of us to witness," she added. "It could not have been more well deserved. And by the way, USC is fortunate to have him in that dean's chair!"
THE CROWD runs Thursdays and Saturdays. B.W. Cook is editor of the Bay Window, the official publication of the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach.