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USC Rossier Centennial

USC Rossier Centennial


The First Century

Elaine Woo


The First Century

Elaine Woo

USC Rossier: The First Century
By Elaine Woo
Copyright © 2019 by USC Rossier School of Education
All rights reserved. For permissions and other queries, please write to:
USC Rossier School of Education
3470 Trousdale Parkway
Los Angeles, CA 90089-4033
ISBN 978-0-578-44569-4
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is available upon request.
First Printing 2019
Printed in the U.S.A.
Book design by Golden Design Studio



PAGE 8 CHAPTER 1 The Formative Years
PAGE 16 CHAPTER 2 Partners in Americanization

PAGE 26 CHAPTER 3 Making a Mark
PAGE 34 CHAPTER 4 Opportunity in a Time of War

PAGE 42 CHAPTER 5 The Melbo Era


PAGE 58 CHAPTER 6 The Superintendent Pipeline
PAGE 68 CHAPTER 7 Facing Turbulent Times
PAGE 78 CHAPTER 8 Changing Course

PAGE 84 CHAPTER 9 The Drumbeat for Reform
PAGE 94 CHAPTER 10 Crisis and Change



A NOTE USC ROSSIER 5 The First Century

I n my nearly two decades as dean of USC Rossier, education has
undergone a renaissance. New insights from education psychologists,
breakthroughs in personalized learning and technology, and
developments in the charter school movement are changing what it
means to be educated in the 21st century. And that progress shows no signs
of stopping or slowing.

Faculty, staff and alumni of USC Rossier have driven many of these
developments. The colleagues I’ve worked beside and the students we’ve prepared
are but the latest in successive generations of inspired and impactful educators
who have extended USC’s innovative and entrepreneurial spirit to all corners of
the education world.

Writing this history of the school has been a process of discovery and a
homecoming. Many of the defining characteristics of our current work were
in place at our founding and have persisted through the decades.

The adoption of our most recent mission statement—preparing leaders to
achieve educational equity—is not just an evolution but a revolution. 

We began 100 years ago with the express purpose of meeting the needs of
a rapidly changing city and region, ensuring that no opportunities would be
lost due to a lack of qualified and devoted educators.  

We begin our second century committed to leading the country and the
world toward a more equitable future, ensuring that profound insights from
across the education landscape serve to improve outcomes for all students.

This book came to life through careful archival research, interviews,
writing and editing by Elaine Woo, former education editor and reporter for
the Los Angeles Times; Sandy Banks, who spent more than three decades at
the Times as writer, editor and columnist; Claude Zachary, USC’s archivist
and manuscript librarian; and USC Rossier’s external relations team. I am so
grateful for all their work on our school’s behalf.   

I hope you enjoy learning more about our history and the people who
made us what we are today.

Fight On!


Karen Symms Gallagher, PhD
Emery Stoops and Joyce King Stoops Dean




“If the community shapes the institution, institutions 1911 to prepare teachers for a high school credential,
undergird or structure the community,” historian Carey to launching the first fully online master of arts in
McWilliams once wrote. teaching program in a major university in 2009.

McWilliams had aimed that observation at Los One of the giants in the school’s history, Dean Irving
Angeles and its first major institution of higher learning, R. Melbo, was every bit an entrepreneur, sending
the University of Southern California. But he could as faculty to train teachers in centers from Athens to
easily have been describing the relationship of the USC Taipei and assiduously preparing and placing school
Rossier School of Education and the budding metropolis district administrators in top jobs throughout Los
that impelled its creation 100 years ago. Angeles and around the state.

The third oldest education school in California—the Not every venture was successful or even entirely
University of California at Berkeley beat it by five years laudable. Many of the Progressive-era educators
and Stanford University by one—USC Rossier was trained at USC in the World War I era, for example,
established in 1918 during a momentous time for the bought into stereotypes about the capabilities of
nation. World War I was coming to an end. Women immigrant students that contributed to the rise of
were about to win the right to vote. Immigration was segregation, ability tracking and other ills at the heart
surging, especially from Europe and Mexico. And the of the East L.A. “blowouts” and other protests of the
Progressive movement was infecting all manner of 1960s and ’70s.
social reformers, including educators, with new ideas.
And when public education systems were assailed
Los Angeles also bristled with change. Electric in the 1980s for the poor performance of American
trolleys competed with horse-drawn wagons on students, schools of education—long viewed as
downtown streets. Brick and mortar were squeezing out insufficient in scholarship and irrelevant to the field
traces of the city’s adobe past. And the miles upon miles they served—were also called to task. Were they the
of undeveloped acreage inspired dreamers like the three real cause of the “rising tide of mediocrity” afflicting
prosperous businessmen who envisioned a university on public schools?
a dusty mustard field on the outskirts of town.
USC Rossier has felt the hot glare of critics but
The campus that grew there would become, in the has endured to tell its tale of struggle, ambition and
words of historian Kevin Starr, “the vehicle whereby an creativity born of risk. Today it is ranked among the
entire generation of Southern Californians realized its nation’s top 10 schools of education, with a faculty
career aspirations.” of savvy former superintendents and world-class
scholars exploring complex questions of learning,
The entrepreneurial spirit of USC’s founders passed equity and leadership.
into the education school’s DNA. Endowment-poor and
tuition-dependent, the school found ways to create This history focuses on the social interplay that
something new of value to Southern California to keep molded USC Rossier from the start as a private school
going in hard times—from winning the authority in with a public spirit.


The Formative Years

USC ROSSIER 9 The First Century

A real estate boom brought USC into existence in USC ROSSIER 11 The First Century

1880, but when land prices collapsed seven years later, Southern California at the
turn of the 20th century
the university nearly did, too.

F ounding president Marion M. Bovard, who had overseen a period of en-
ergetic growth, suddenly found himself soliciting donations to sustain
a university with grand ambitions but no endowment, overdue bank
notes and faculty demanding to be paid. The stress overwhelmed him,
and he died on medical leave in 1891 when he was 44 years old.

He was succeeded by physician Joseph P. Widney, whose strategy for boosting
revenue included modernizing the curriculum with biology and other more practi-
cal courses. The next president, Methodist minister George W. White, also pushed
for new programs that would draw students and boost tuition revenue.

In particular, White believed, USC needed to get into the business of training

The best way to do that, he and other university leaders reasoned, was to
“bring in a recognized expert in the field of teaching and create a department
around him,” Leon Levitt wrote in his 1970 doctoral dissertation about the origins
and early history of USC Rossier.

Enter James Harmon Hoose.
Hoose had spent 22 years overseeing the education of teachers as founding
president of the State Normal Training School in Cortland, N.Y., before retiring to
Southern California in 1891. He settled in Pasadena, where, like many others who
had flocked to the land of sunshine and orchards, he was dabbling in “fruit culture.”
When USC came calling, the educator-turned-gentleman farmer was already
60—quite old by the life-expectancy rates of the late 19th century. But Hoose
possessed the physical and mental vigor of a much younger man. Despite the
difficulties confronting USC, he joined the faculty in 1896 and established the
Department of Pedagogy to focus on the methods and practices of teaching.
The city then had only one training school for teachers, the Los Angeles
State Normal School. (In 1919 it became the Southern Branch of the University
of California—UCLA.) But, as USC’s leaders recognized, the market for teachers
was expanding along with the city. Between 1890 and 1930, the population of Los


In April of 1920, the Trojan student newspa- filled in briefly after founding dean Thomas He also made it convenient for teachers to
per published a front-page article on the mari- Blanchard Stowell became ill. take courses during the regular school year by
tal and emotional problems of the chairman of scheduling classes in the late afternoon, eve-
USC’s psychology department. Embarrassed by Veteran Los Angeles school district edu- nings and Saturdays.
the revelations, the professor resigned. cator and USC benefactor Verna B. Dauterive,
who began studying for her master’s degree in Rogers “had a great vision of teaching as
In dire need of someone to manage the 1943, remembered Rogers as a “forceful, au- a service to the community and lived by that
department for the last few months of the thoritarian figure” who was focused on raising ideal,” Weersing said.
term, the university quickly drafted Lester the professional image of the school.
Burton Rogers, an expert in educational psy- Levitt compared Rogers to USC Presi-
chology from Lawrence College in Wiscon- Rogers presided over a series of academ- dent Rufus von KleinSmid, finding that both
sin, who was on sabbatical at USC. ic milestones. He was at the helm when the had autocratic tendencies that made them
school negotiated its first agreement to place “right for one historic era and wrong for an-
Rogers must have made a good impres- USC student elementary teachers in the Los other.” He suggested that few faculty mem-
sion because he was soon pressed into duty Angeles school district, at 36th Street School, bers were sorry when Rogers stepped down
elsewhere: By the time the fall term began he in 1921; admitted its first candidates for the from the deanship in 1945 and von KleinS-
had been named dean of the School of Ed- bachelor of science, master’s and doctor of mid relinquished the presidency in 1946.
ucation. He would become the school’s lon- philosophy degrees in 1923; and produced
gest-serving dean, leading it for the quarter the university’s first successful PhD candi- Osman R. Hull, a prolific author of school
century that spanned the challenging years of date in 1927. He helped the school gain its district surveys who would succeed Rogers as
the Depression and World War II. independence from the Graduate School and dean, told Levitt that he often found himself
launch plans for the education doctorate in defending the two men’s leadership styles.
“He was tough in a good sense,” Prof. 1928.
Frederick Weersing, a faculty leader during “Both of them were bosses; they ran things
the Rogers era, said in an unpublished 1970 He was dean of the USC summer session, with a strict hand and pretty much by them-
dissertation by Leon Levitt. “He didn’t mind which was created in 1906 to serve teachers selves,” Hull said. “If they called a commit-
if people didn’t like him, particularly if he got seeking to advance their training. He expand- tee meeting, it was to tell them, not to solicit
a good job done.” ed summer offerings, drew faculty from pres- ideas … But I always contended on behalf of
tigious universities and increased enrollments these men that they were pioneering a little
Rogers was the school’s third dean in two even through the Depression years. liberal arts college into a great university.”
years, succeeding W. Franklin Jones, who had

Angeles would explode from 50,000 to 1.2 million. Between 1890 and 1910, public 1 USC ROSSIER 13 The First Century
school enrollment would increase from 11,000 to 46,500 students. By 1920 the
average daily attendance was more than 90,000. 2

Hoose’s aim was “to give instruction not only in the history and theory, but in 3
the practical workings of the profession as well,” Leslie F. Gay wrote in a 1910 his-
tory of USC. The venerable professor taught psychology in addition to education, 4
believing, Gay noted, that “psychology was the only proper door through which
entrance was to be gained into the field of Pedagogy.” 1. Marion M. Bovard, USC
President (1880–91)
George F. Bovard, USC’s fourth president, would later describe the depart- 2. Joseph P. Widney, USC
ment’s founding chair as “philosopher, dreamer, seer.” Others venerated him as a President (1892–95)
Renaissance man for his prowess in multiple fields. 3. James Harmon Hoose,
Professor and founder of the
Within a few years of his arrival, Hoose was carrying the load of three full-time Department of Pedagogy
professors, teaching all of the history and economics courses at the university as (1896–1909)
well as political science, philosophy and sociology. His “heroic self-sacrifice,” as 4. Thomas Blanchard Stowell,
biographer Tully C. Knoles wrote in 1915, would eventually lead to the creation of Department Chair and inau-
six departments with 20 faculty members. gural Dean (1909–19)

In addition to his extraordinary class load, Knoles noted, Hoose devoted eve-
nings to advising graduate students, “was in great demand as a speaker at Par-
ent-Teacher Associations,” and visited local schools to stay attuned to teachers’
needs. Their desire for continuing education led to USC’s first summer session in
1906. Although the university could not afford to pay for the program—the costs
were borne by the professors for the first several years—it quickly grew in size
and prestige, drawing visiting faculty from Harvard and other elite institutions.

Around this time, Hoose stopped using the term pedagogy, which was losing
favor in the academic world. By 1909 the Department of Pedagogy had become
the more modern-sounding Department of Education.

That year, Hoose took on another responsibility—one that underscored the
growing importance of the teacher preparation enterprise to the university’s
overall development.


There had been a silver lining in the economic cloud that depressed the region in
the 1890s: The lean times made public high schools more attractive to parents
who could no longer afford private school tuition. According to Levitt, enrollment
in the city’s public high schools rose from 600 in 1893 to 1,572 in 1908. By 1918—
the year of the founding of the School of Education—the city would have 24,000
students in 25 high schools.

USC leaders recognized what the dramatic growth of the high school popula-
tion meant for the university: “a great potential undergraduate student body ...
and a demand for specially designated, approved, and expanded course offerings
in the field of pedagogy,” Levitt wrote in his dissertation.

The normal schools, as teacher training institutes were called, prepared ele-
mentary teachers. Only two institutions in the state were authorized to prepare
teachers for the high school credential: Stanford and UC Berkeley. USC wanted to
join that club but needed the approval of the California State Board of Education.

In 1909 President Bovard tapped Hoose to head a committee that would work
to secure the board’s authorization and overhaul graduate studies across the
university. One of the colleagues he enlisted was Thomas Blanchard Stowell, who
would drive the campaign for the state board’s endorsement.

Stowell was well-suited to the task: A protege of Hoose, he had led the State
Normal Training School in Potsdam, N.Y., for 10 years. In 1909, USC hired him
to run the education program, freeing Hoose to focus on creating a philosophy

The new chairman took over the summer school and added substantial cours-
es to the regular curriculum in education philosophy, school administration and
other subjects deemed important for teaching at the secondary level. He also ex-

panded the curriculum of University High School, a training school for secondary

teachers on the USC campus, and single-handedly drew up “a concrete program

for the master of arts degree, which the committee promptly adopted,” Levitt


In 1910 the committee prepared its application for the credentialing authority.

Stowell accompanied Bovard and other committee members to the State Board of

Education to present the university’s case. But the board rejected USC’s applica-

tion, citing the poor organization of its graduate courses, overloaded professors

and an inadequate library.

Over the next months the committee made significant adjustments, tough-

ening requirements for graduate admission, degrees and credentialing. On Feb.

10, 1911, USC went before the state board again and this time its application was

approved. USC became the third institution of higher learning in the state and

the first in Southern California with the authority to endorse graduates for the

secondary teaching certificate.

In October of 1911, the Los Angeles Times reported that more than half of the

75 students enrolled in graduate studies at USC were going for the high school

credential. One of the first to earn the credential, in 1912, was Frank A. Bouelle,

who in 1929 would become the first of 11 Trojans

to serve as superintendent of the Los Angeles city

“Immediately upon its creation, Education schools. Over the next years, except for a dip during
became the largest professional and graduate World War I, the number of candidates soared, mak-
ing the high school credential program one of the

school in the University, and eventually the fastest-growing of any of the university’s programs.
The Times, in a story about the first class of high

most influential in the Southland.” school credential candidates, noted that they “have
been quick to recognize that the distinction con-

ferred upon the University of Southern California by

the State Board of Education means a great educational benefit … as, indeed, it is

proving to be an educational blessing to all Southern California.”

By 1917, USC was accredited to prepare all categories of elementary and sec-

ondary school teachers.

By the next year enrollment had grown so large that university trustees decid-

ed to give the Department of Education the status it deserved. They separated it

from the College of Liberal Arts and created the School of Education.

“Immediately upon its creation, Education became the largest professional

and graduate school in the University, and eventually the most influential in the

Southland,” historians Manuel P. Servin and Iris Higbie Wilson wrote in a 1969

history of the university.  

Hoose did not live long enough to witness this milestone; he died in 1915 at

age 80. In 1921, USC dedicated a wing of its new Bovard Administration Building

as the James Harmon Hoose Hall of Philosophy in recognition of Hoose’s seminal

contributions to the development of the university.

The other wing of the building would be named the Thomas Blanchard Stowell

Hall of Education after the school’s first dean.

D. Rockwell Hunt, another influential early faculty leader, would later

praise Stowell as “chief founder of the Graduate Department and of the School

of Education.”

Stowell led the newly constituted school for only one year, until health prob-

lems caused him to step down.

“He had done his task well, and his dream had come true,” his successor,

Lester Burton Rogers, wrote in the Times a few years after Stowell’s death in 1927.

“He had launched the school of education upon its career.”

1 USC ROSSIER 15 The First Century

1. Widney House, USC campus
2. USC faculty, 1917


USC ROSSIER 17 The First Century


Partners in Americanization

The need for trained teachers drove the creation of USC ROSSIER 19 The First Century

education schools, including UC Berkeley’s in 1913 Chinatown in early Los Angeles

and Stanford’s in 1917. But that was not the only

reason they emerged at this time.

I n the decades just before and after World War I, immigration was surging,
filling classrooms with students who could not speak English. By 1920, 41
percent of the 50,445 students in L.A. city schools were from other coun-
tries, including Italy, Russia, China, Japan and particularly Mexico.
In the city as a whole, the numbers of non-White, foreign-born residents
would increase from 23,000 to 360,000 between 1890 and 1930, while the
overall population jumped from 50,000 to 1.2 million. “Los Angeles is nothing if
not cosmopolitan,” travel writer J. Torrey Connor observed in 1902. “The tourist
brushes garments, in passing along the streets, with representatives from every
state in the Union, and, it may be said, of every country in the world.”

The flood of newcomers coincided with the Red Scare of 1919–20, when
radical émigrés were suspected of trying to sabotage American capitalism. That
stoked fears of social disorder and a drive for conformity that transformed public

For good and ill, the Americanization of immigrants became public education’s
highest priority. USC and other universities became diligent partners in the effort.

Teachers were encouraged to get an Americanization credential offered by the
California State Board of Education. USC created special courses for educators,
such as “Problems of Americanization,” taught by Prof. Ernest Jameson Lickley,
an expert on truancy who was one of the eight inaugural faculty members of the
USC School of Education. And a series of lessons on teaching English to immi-
grants was developed by Ettie Lee, who earned a high school teaching certificate
at USC in 1917 and taught an extension class on the subject.

The university offered courses leading to two types of Americanization cer-
tificates. According to a 1923 School of Education bulletin, one was for teaching
English while the other was for teaching civics to immigrants seeking to become
naturalized citizens.

One of the first recipients of an Americanization certificate was Grace M. Turn- USC ROSSIER 21 The First Century
er, who earned a master’s degree from the School of Education in 1923.
In 1928 she was profiled in a front-page article in the Los Angeles Times as
the highly successful principal of Albion Street School, an elementary school in (Opposite) Los Angeles
Lincoln Heights that had long served immigrant children, including the future film students outside of Macy
director Frank Capra. The Times reported that for four consecutive years Turner Street School
“has sent her entire graduating class on to a higher education”—beyond grade 1. Nora Sterry, Principal of
school—“which is said to be a record among the schools of the city.”   Macy Street School

Turner credited the school’s achievement to its emphasis on teaching through
the arts. “There is so much of art, music and drama in the background of these
children of foreign-born parents,” she told the Times, “that I always have worked
with them in ways to utilize these gifts. We dramatize history, for instance, and
find it a most effective method of learning.”


Albion Street was a “neighborhood school,” the term educators used to denote
schools for the children of poor, non-English-speaking parents. Although derided
in later decades as a means of segregating students along racial and ethnic lines,
the neighborhood school was viewed at the time as an efficient and enlightened
way to socialize immigrant youth. In her master’s thesis, Turner wrote that the
schools’ mission was to serve as a “steadying and integrating” force.

A few miles away in Chinatown was Macy Street School, considered an exem-
plar of the neighborhood model. It was headed by another USC graduate student,
Nora Sterry.

A Kansas native, Sterry began teaching in 1903 and was promoted to principal
of Macy Street in 1913. A student of Emory Bogardus, a pioneering USC scholar
of immigration and ethnicity who taught education and sociology, she earned
a bachelor’s degree in 1920 and a master’s in sociology in 1924. She became an
influential educator who lectured widely on Americanization.

During an outbreak of the plague in 1924, she became a hero to the local Mexi-
can immigrant community when she established a kitchen at Macy Street to feed
quarantined families. She spent two weeks in the quarantine zone, a courageous
action that was in keeping with her efforts to reorganize the school along the lines
of a settlement house, a type of community center created by social reformers to
alleviate the poverty of low-income families.

Many of Macy Street’s students were malnourished, missed class to care for
younger siblings, had poor hygiene because their homes lacked running water,
and rarely saw a doctor. So the school introduced penny lunches, a “plunge” for
bathing, free health screenings, and low-cost daycare. To provide a safe alterna-
tive to the streets, it also had a playground open from dawn to 9 p.m.

Although controversial at the time, many of Sterry’s innovations became stan-
dard features of public schools by the 1930s, after middle-class parents demand-
ed them for their children.

She and other like-minded educators helped turn Los Angeles’s public
schools into what historian Judith Rosenberg Raftery called a “paradigm of
Progressive reform.”

Over the previous 100 years, public schools had operated on a factory model,
drilling students on the three R’s in a manner largely indifferent to individual
differences. But Sterry and other educators drew on the ideas of philosopher
John Dewey and social reformer Jane Addams to take individual differences into
account. At Macy Street, that impulse was reflected not only in services like
cafeterias and tuberculosis screenings but a curriculum that sought to engage
students through hands-on learning.

For example, every primary classroom was equipped with a dollhouse that
provided opportunities to learn a craft like furniture-making or a math lesson by
“buying” goods to stock the house.


“For good and ill, the “The content is … practical citizenship,” Sterry wrote. “It is education for daily
Americanization of life in the home and the community.”  
immigrants became public
education’s highest priority. Stereotyped thinking, however, heavily influenced what and how immigrant
USC and other universities students, particularly Mexicans, were taught.
became diligent partners
in the effort.” The Americanizers “believed that traditional education was not possible in
an environment of poverty, poor housing and sanitation, health problems and
mental defects, and unemployment,” James William Cameron wrote in an unpub-
lished 1976 doctoral dissertation at USC on the education of Mexican students
in Los Angeles in the early 20th century. “The primary purpose of educators like
Grace Turner appeared to be to rid the Mexican of his so-called foreignness in the
neighborhood schools.”

In light of Turner’s success at sending Albion Street School graduates to high
school, Cameron’s assessment may be overly harsh. But it is clear, in hindsight,
that paternalistic attitudes toward Mexican children shaped and often limited
their educational progress.

Turner wrote of aligning lessons to the “native capacities of those taught,”
while Sterry was more explicit: “The Mexican child is so good-natured and docile,
so easy to manage if not held to a high standard of accomplishment,” she wrote
in her widely-cited 1924 master’s thesis, “The Sociological Basis for the Reorgani-
zation of the Macy Street School.” Macy Street—which had a garden to raise vege-
tables, a workshop for carpentry and a cafeteria for meal preparation—embraced
practical education so enthusiastically that Turner praised it as the only “grade
trade school” in Southern California.

Sterry later served a decade on the Los Angeles County Board of Education
and was its president when she died in 1941. While some might brand her views
racist, she likely would have considered herself a pluralist: She was on record
opposing a 1931 California Assembly bill to legalize the segregation of Mexican
school children, calling it a “travesty on the very meaning of education.”

For better and sometimes for worse, Sterry embodied the impulses that drove
the era’s education reforms.

“The cadre of Progressive-era teachers and reformers who came out of USC,
many of them women, played important leadership roles in the education of some

of the city’s poorest and most vulnerable citizens,” said USC Prof. William F. De- 2 USC ROSSIER 23 The First Century
verell, who directs the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West. “We
might fault them for some of their views on race and Americanization, but, at their 3
best, they worked on the front lines of humanitarian and educational reform.”
1. USC commencement cere-
•—• mony, 1925
2. Rufus B. von KleinSmid, USC
The 1920s also introduced intelligence testing, which many school boards, includ- President (1921–47)
ing L.A.’s, considered a boon to school efficiency. Proponents of IQ tests believed 3. Bessie Bruington Burke, Los
they would simplify teaching by providing a scientific way to group students Angeles School District’s first
according to ability. But many educators pushed back on the trend, pointing out Black teacher and principal
the problems of using the tests on a culturally diverse population.

One vocal critic was Ethelda Drake, who received her bachelor of science
degree in education from USC in 1928. The principal of Ann Street School near
downtown, she mocked the validity of the tests for foreign-born students in a
satirical letter published in the Los Angeles School Journal in 1927.

“On the long stretch through the Indian Ocean,” she wrote, “I conceived the
brilliant idea of giving mental tests to the children of the various countries where-
in I might visit … [I]t is difficult for me write without sympathetic tears. Every
child I tested is definitely feeble minded.”

Anxieties about the stability of America’s social and racial order also fed the
eugenics movement. In fact, some of California’s leading Progressives, including
Los Angeles physician John Randolph Haynes and Stanford University President
David Starr Jordan, supported eugenics. Another prominent supporter was Rufus
von KleinSmid, who became USC’s fifth president in 1921.

But USC also had a hand in the career of Hazel Gottschalk Whitaker, a pioneer-
ing champion of Black students. One of the city’s first two Black secondary school
teachers, Gottschalk earned a master’s degree in education in 1931 with “A Study
of Gifted Negro Children in the Los Angeles City Schools,” a remarkable document
considering that America was still in the Jim Crow era.

Using district records on intelligence test results, Whitaker found no signif-
icant difference in IQ scores between Black and White children from the same
social class and geographic area. She concluded that “educators need, if not a
changed view about the mentality of Negroes, at least a willingness to recognize
superior mental ability in those Negroes who possess it.” The widespread unwill-
ingness to do so “is one of the most reprehensible practices to be found among
educators,” she wrote.

Married to Leon Whitaker, the city’s first Black deputy district attorney, she
was assigned in 1936 to Jefferson High School, where she taught the district’s
first class in “Negro History” and helped bring many Black luminaries to campus,
including W.E.B. Du Bois, Langston Hughes, Ethel Waters, Lionel Hampton and
Ralph Bunche.

The Los Angeles school district’s first Black teacher and principal also studied
at USC. Bessie Bruington Burke BA ’28 MS ’37 was named principal of Holmes Ave-
nue School in 1919. She had joined the school’s all-White staff in 1910 after placing
seventh out of 800 in the district’s teacher exams.

“She was one of those principals who didn’t have to say much,” one of her
former pupils told the Los Angeles Times in 1995. “She would just look at you. You
weren’t even allowed to giggle in the hall.”


Ethel Percy Andrus MA ’28 PhD ’30 once Librarian,” Cecilia Rasmussen wrote in the “We recognized that the school ... reaches
described her father as “a man who believed Los Angeles Times in 2003. “She was a red- into every home in the community,” she wrote
everyone should do good somewhere.” haired, bespectacled, soft-spoken educator in the Journal of the National Education Associ-
whose mission was to spare the rod and work ation in 1917. “We knew that we could make
She embraced his philosophy during a life with children and parents. She built close re- the school the pulse of the community, and so
that unfolded in two acts, each remarkable on lationships with teachers and inspired lead- we advertised community singing.”
its own. ership skills and hope in students at a time
when many pupils didn’t even reach senior Soon the community events featured
Born in San Francisco in 1884, Andrus year, let alone collect diplomas.” prominent lecturers along with the singa-
grew up in Chicago. After earning a bache- longs and drew 800 to 1,000 people a night,
lor’s degree at the University of Chicago in Lincoln High had more than 2,000 stu- including the families of students, their
1903, she taught English for seven years at dents. Some came from the wealthy fami- neighbors and local business and civic lead-
what would become the Illinois Institute of lies that developed Lincoln Heights, one of ers. Many of those visitors later enrolled in
Technology. the oldest communities in Los Angeles, but the “Opportunity School” Andrus created
growing numbers were immigrants or the for adults, which evolved into the Lincoln
In her spare time, she volunteered at Hull children of immigrants from Italy, Russia, Heights Adult Evening School.
House, the settlement house where Progres- Mexico, China and Japan.
sive leader Jane Addams provided educational Andrus dropped Latin and Greek from
and social opportunities for immigrants and The school was notorious for rowdy behav- the curriculum and beefed up vocational ed-
others living in poverty. ior and the high delinquency rate of its pupils. ucation, a change that, she admitted in the
NEA article, raised the suspicions of work-
Andrus would carry Hull’s ideas about Andrus wasted no time addressing the ing-class parents who believed a classical
social reform back to California in 1910. She frictions in the school and the communi- education would help their children rise in
taught for a year at Santa Paula High School ty. She had students begin each day with a life—to become clerks, for instance, instead
in central California, then moved to Los An- pledge based on the Declaration of Indepen- of mechanics.
geles and spent five years at Manual Arts High dence (“I hold these truths to be self-evident:
School, including a year as acting principal. that all men are created equal …”). She lat- Later generations would malign the think-
er noted that her goal was to “bring to each ing that led Andrus to stress job skills over
In 1916 she was named acting princi- [student] a sense of his own worth by treating classics, but her views were wholly in line
pal of East Los Angeles High School—lat- him with dignity and respect, by honoring his with Progressive-era thinking in the 1920s
er renamed Abraham Lincoln High School racial background not as a picturesque oddity, and ’30s. “We have learned that before we can
through her efforts—and was promoted to but as a valued contribution in the tapestry of train industrial workers we must train our boys
principal within a year. She led the school for American life.” and girls to believe in an industrial future,” she
28 years, until she retired in 1944. wrote. She held meetings to explain “our ambi-
She included the entire community in her tion to fit our school to the needs of the com-
She is believed to be the state’s first wom- efforts to create an atmosphere of mutual un- munity” and eventually won over the skeptics.
an principal of a large urban high school. derstanding and belonging.

“In an era of hard-nosed, gruff male prin-
cipals, she might have passed for Marian the

“She was a red-haired, bespectacled, soft-spoken
educator whose mission was to spare the rod and work
with children and parents. She built close relationships
with teachers and inspired leadership skills.”

She visited students and their families found the former teacher ailing and unable USC ROSSIER 25 The First Century
at home, joined in their celebrations and to afford a doctor or proper housing: She was
watched out for her pupils on the streets as living in a chicken coop.
well as at school.
The encounter led Andrus to the achieve-
“I can’t tell you the many times I went to ments for which she is most widely known.
court to rescue boys,” Andrus once told an in-
terviewer. “While there, I invited the police- At 63 she founded the National Retired
men into the school to serve as big brothers. Teachers Association. At 74 she found-
And they did!” ed AARP—the American Association of
Retired Persons—the powerful nonprofit
Andrus paid special attention to girls’ advocacy and service organization with 40
education and how the school could pre- million members.
pare girls for work both inside and outside
the home. Their educational needs were the Those organizations raised $2 million of
subject of Andrus’ 1930 doctoral dissertation, the $3.5 million cost of constructing the USC
which made her one of the first women to Ethel Percy Andrus Gerontology Center for
earn a PhD at USC. the study of aging, which opened in 1973.

Lincoln High won recognition for the Percy died of a heart attack in 1967 at age
reforms Andrus instituted during her tenure. 82. One thousand of her former students and
The NEA singled out Lincoln as a model for teachers showed up for her tribute at Lincoln
the nation in reducing racial and ethnic con- High School. One of them was actor Robert
flict. The delinquency rate fell so sharply that Preston, who attended Lincoln in the 1930s
in 1940 a local juvenile court judge awarded and went on to fame with his starring role in
Andrus and the school a special citation. The Music Man.

In 1944, when Andrus was 60, she re- He reminded the mourners that it was
tired to take care of her ailing mother. She Andrus who had ordered up the iron scroll
had other income to supplement her meager over the school’s entrance that read “OP-
$60-a-month state pension but soon realized PORTUNITY.”
that other retirees were not as fortunate.
“Isn’t it amazing,” he asked, “that we didn’t
As a volunteer for the California Retired know until we walked out [that] opportunity
Teachers Association, she monitored mem- had red hair?”
bers’ living conditions. One day she went to
check on a woman whose grocer was worried
because he hadn’t seen her for days. Andrus


Making A Mark

USC ROSSIER 27 The First Century

In 1927, the School of Education capped its ninth year USC ROSSIER 29 The First Century

with an achievement no other college or school at USC Depression-era Los Angeles

could claim: It produced the university’s first successful

PhD candidate.

D avid Welty Lefever, a Compton Union High School teacher and
counselor, earned his doctorate with a dissertation on the Thorndike
intelligence test. He spent the next 40 years on the School of Edu-
cation faculty, where he mentored a number of doctoral candidates
who went on to prominent careers. One was Marianne Frostig, a pioneer in teaching
the learning disabled and founder of the Frostig School in Pasadena. Another was
educational psychologist Robert Lloyd Docter, who became the president of the Los
Angeles Board of Education during the 1970s as an advocate for school integration.

Lefever’s distinction was not the school’s only boast-worthy achievement as it
neared the end of its first decade.

In 1928 university trustees and President von KleinSmid—a former public high
school teacher and principal—agreed to give the school “full professional status,”
meaning it had jurisdiction over its own degree programs like the schools of medi-
cine and law. Until then, it had been controlled by the Graduate School.

That year, the university also granted the school’s request to create what
would become its signature offering: the doctor of education degree, a three-year
program geared to the practical needs of educators in the field. The EdD program
quickly overtook the PhD program in the number of degrees awarded.

With those steps, accomplished “seemingly without a word of dissension or
disagreement,” Levitt wrote in his account of the early decades, “the infancy of
the School of Education had come to an end.”


The school entered its adolescence with 1,154 students—the largest enrollment
by far of the 19 professional schools and colleges operated by USC in 1930. That
year the summer session, founded in 1906 to serve teachers who wanted to
advance their training, had more than 3,700 students. Dean Lester Burton Rogers
touted the summer program’s popularity as “one of the most striking illustrations
of the remarkable growth of the university as a whole.”

That growth slowed as the Great Depression took hold, forcing faculty salary
cuts and other economies as enrollment and revenues declined.

But public school enrollments continued to climb, creating opportunities for
the School of Education to extend its influence during the 1930s.

One of the school’s most influential experts was Osman R. Hull.

1 A physics major at UC Berkeley, Hull intended to become an engineer but changed
his mind in his senior year after discovering how much he liked being a teaching
2 assistant. After earning his bachelor’s degree in 1913, he stayed in Northern California,
teaching science and mathematics in Crescent City. Later he was a high school princi-
1. Lester Burton Rogers, Dean pal and district superintendent in Sebastopol.
2. Osman R. Hull, Dean In 1924, after earning a doctorate in education at his alma mater, Hull was
(1946–53) offered a faculty position at USC. According to Levitt, he decided to accept after
considering the advice of his UC mentors: “If you go to any of the established uni-
versities,” they told him, “you start in at the bottom. You take a long time to get up.
If you want to ... help build what is going to be one of the great universities, go to
SC. Von KleinSmid [is] a comer.”

Like von KleinSmid, Hull was enterprising. An expert on school administration,
he conducted studies for local districts that were known in education parlance as
school surveys. He found there was plenty of business to be had: In 1925, Los Ange-
les County had 137 school districts and nearly 250,000 pupils. As school boards be-
came more professional and dominated by businessmen concerned with efficiency
and modern management techniques, they turned to survey specialists like Hull to
diagnose educational problems and recommend solutions.

Hull and faculty colleague Willard S. Ford teamed up for an ambitious analysis
of the Los Angeles school system in 1933, when allegations of corruption dogged
its administration.

They found massive dysfunction.
The district had four administrative heads instead of one, with the superinten-
dent, business manager, auditor and secretary of the board all reporting directly
to an overwhelmed Board of Education. “There was no head of the school system,”
Hull recalled in an interview with Levitt decades later.
To free the board to focus on policy instead of minutiae like teacher assignments
and the price of chalk, Hull and Ford proposed turning the superintendent into the
district’s chief executive, with authority over day-to-day operations and the other
division heads.
They also urged that the board create the jobs of deputy superintendent and
six assistant superintendents who each would oversee a region of the 360,000-pu-
pil district.
The board began putting the key changes into effect in 1934, creating the gover-
nance model that has been in place ever since.
“That’s what the flow chart looks like right up to today, with the superintendent
handling all the administration,” said former Los Angeles Unified School District
Supt. Sid Thompson, who headed the district in the 1990s.
“Before this happened,” he added, “the board must have found itself in a real mess.”


After completing the management study in 1938, Ford left USC for a new career: He
became a deputy superintendent in the district he’d studied, responsible for over-
seeing the overhaul he and Hull had recommended. But school site administrators
were so opposed to the changes he pushed—which included efficiency measures
such as closing or consolidating schools with small enrollments—that they effec-
tively blocked him.

“He finally had to accept the job of supervising cafeterias,” one of his former
USC colleagues recalled to Levitt.

Ford eventually left for the Glendale school district, where he served as district
superintendent in the 1940s.

Hull remained at USC, but, with Ford gone, he needed a new survey partner.
He turned to one of the newest additions to the faculty: Irving R. Melbo, a former
administrator from the Oakland school district.

Both Hull and Melbo would have long and consequential careers shaping the
School of Education and public education in Southern California.

A physics major a
University of Calif
Berkeley, Hull inte
to become an eng
but changed his m
in his senior year a
discovering how m
he liked being a te
assistant. After ea
his bachelor’s degr


In 1937 Theodore Hsi-en Chen stopped in Languages and Culture Department, which sity’s Teachers College, where he studied
Los Angeles on his way to the University of he chaired from 1940 to 1968. He also di- under Progressive philosopher and educa-
Northern Colorado, where he planned to rected the USC East Asian Studies Cen- tion reformer John Dewey. After earning a
study for his doctorate in education. Some- ter for more than a decade. Along the way master’s degree in education in 1929, he re-
one suggested he check out USC while he he mentored several generations of China turned to Fuzhou to become dean at Fukien
was in town. scholars in the U.S. and China, introduced Christian University, his alma mater. He
Chinese and Japanese language instruction would later serve a year as the university’s
“So I came to USC to talk with the dean,” at local high schools, and amassed a valu- president. He also helped organize Tunghai
the native of China recalled in a 1984 oral able collection of books and other material University in Taiwan after the Communist
history interview. “The dean liked the conver- about China and its education system that takeover in China.
sation, evidently . . . [He said] ‘Why don’t you he would later donate to USC.
stay on here?’” Like many Chinese people of his gener-
“Theodore Chen was a pathbreaker and a ation, he assumed he would return perma-
Dean Lester Burton Rogers offered to builder of bridges and institutions,” said USC nently to China after finishing his graduate
match the stipend promised by the Colorado Rossier Dean Karen Symms Gallagher. “His studies in the United States. But the politi-
university, so Chen accepted. In 1939 he com- efforts helped turn USC into a destination cal turmoil in his country in the 1930s and
pleted his doctorate and joined the School of for aspiring and established China scholars as ’40s, especially as the Communist Party rose
Education faculty, where he taught education well as students curious about how schooling to power, and the opportunities he found at
philosophy and comparative education. works in other countries.” USC would convince him that his future was
in America.
His hiring was not only a personal achieve- Born in Fuzhou, China, in 1902, Chen
ment but a noteworthy step for the university. was the eldest of eight children whose parents At the request of Rufus von KleinSmid,
were both missionary teachers. “Fortunately, who was USC’s president from 1921 to 1947,
Although Chinese students had studied at my parents were modern people,” Chen said Chen took over the Department of Asiatic
USC since its earliest days, the university did in the 1984 interview. They encouraged him Studies (later named the Department of East
not have a tenured Chinese professor until it to learn English in addition to studying the Asian Languages and Cultures) in 1940 but
hired Chen. “There was no Chinese professor Chinese classics. He finished college in China maintained his appointment in the School of
teaching in any of the Southern California at 19 and began teaching, but “I had always Education. He hired Chinese and Japanese
universities . . . Teddy was the pioneer,” Wen- said, when I was a little kid, ‘I am going to language instructors, who soon found them-
Hui Chen, his wife and fellow USC professor, study in America.’” selves with classes full of U.S. Navy person-
wrote in a memoir published after her death nel headed for the war in the Pacific. He also
in 2010. He was accepted at Columbia Univer-

Chen went on to build USC’s East Asian

“His efforts helped turn USC into a destination
for aspiring and established China scholars as well
as students curious about how schooling works in
other countries.”

threw himself into research that brought him and Japanese language instruction at South- USC ROSSIER 33 The First Century
and the university national renown. ern California high schools. Ten high schools
in the Los Angeles, Palmdale, Bellflower and
“The Asian Studies Department at USC Lancaster school districts were among the
grew quickly into one of the nation’s premier first to participate.
centers for the study of Communist China
during the Korean War,” Kenneth Klein, who In 1971 Chen retired from the East Asian
heads USC’s East Asian Library, wrote in an Studies Center and returned to his first USC
article published in 1993 in the Journal of East home, the School of Education, where he
Asian Libraries. wrote about schooling in Communist China.

Among Chen’s nine books were Elementa- By the time of his death in 1991 at the
ry Chinese Reader and Grammar (1945), which age of 88, his dream of making Chinese and
was used to train college students and U.S. Japanese language instruction part of the
military personnel, Chinese Communism and high school curriculum was well on its way
the Proletarian-Socialist Revolution (1955), to fruition. Today tens of thousands of public
and Thought Reform of the Chinese Intellectuals school students across the country study the
(1981). languages, many of them for Advanced Place-
ment credit.
With the sponsorship of the U.S. Depart-
ment of State, he started summer programs “From the very beginning we emphasized
in Taiwan for American professors and high that our purpose was to make Chinese or Jap-
school teachers. He and his wife, Wen-Hui, anese a regular subject of the high school cur-
who taught sociology at USC, helped to es- riculum,” Chen said in a 1965 film about the
tablish scholarships and fellowships for stu- pilot effort. “This is not the study of an exotic
dents interested in Chinese history, politics subject but a subject that is of great practi-
and culture. cal value. [It] opens up the cultural heritage
of the Orient. It also enables the students to
He also left his mark on local public schools. meet a national need.”
Believing that language was a crucial por-
tal into understanding another culture, he
secured a $180,000 grant from the Carnegie
Corporation in 1963 to introduce Chinese

USC ROSSIER 35 The First Century


Opportunity in a Time of War

When America entered World War II, USC rushed USC ROSSIER 37 The First Century

in behind it. In the first nine months of the war, “Raubenheimer’s Raiders,” a
group of USC students enlist-
enrollment dropped 15 percent as hundreds of students ing in the U.S. Armed Forces
who named themselves after
left to join the fight. Seventy-five faculty members also the USC dean overseeing mili-
tary service opportunities
answered the call to duty.

T he loss of teaching staff and tuition dollars could have been disas-
trous for the university, but, like other campuses across the country,
it mobilized in ways that both supported the war effort and shored up
its own finances.
In fields such as engineering and languages, the curriculum was revised to
serve national defense priorities. In the School of Education, the faculty sped up
the training of teachers to replace those who were serving in the military. To help
students affected by gas rationing and other war-related transportation restric-
tions, it held classes at centers set up closer to teachers’ jobs.

The school also trained recruits who would serve as instructors in the Army
and the Navy. Such contracts to train military personnel boosted enrollment
across the university, which “permitted [USC] to operate in the black during the
period of 1941–1945,” Servin and Wilson wrote in their 1969 history of USC.

The end of the war transformed USC even more.
Thanks to “enthusiasm on the part of … former servicemen for USC,” ac-
cording to Servin and Wilson, 1,500 veterans with education stipends from the
GI Bill became Trojans in the fall of 1945. That led to such overcrowding that the
university quickly built an annex and acquired Army barracks from nearby training
camps to handle the torrent of new students. More than 100 new faculty mem-
bers were hired.
The new instructors were younger and “not of the docile and easily satisfied
generation of previous USC faculties,” Servin and Wilson noted. Their assertive
attitude had a galvanizing effect on the loyal wartime faculty, who were upset that
their workloads had doubled but their salaries hadn’t been raised, even though
new tuition money was flowing from the postwar enrollment boom. They focused
their unhappiness on President von KleinSmid. “He was a very stingy man,” The-
odore Hsi-en Chen, who joined the School of Education faculty after earning his


The day after Verna B. Dauterive graduated ever,” Michele G. Turner, executive director of the Emery Stoops and Joyce King Stoops
from an historically Black college in Texas in the USC Black Alumni Association, told the Dean of USC Rossier, said of Dauterive, who
1943, she left for Los Angeles and USC. She Daily Trojan after Dauterive’s death in 2016 later spearheaded the fundraising campaign
studied nights and weekends for her master’s at the age of 93. to establish the Irving R. and Virginia Archer
degree in education while teaching at a Los Melbo Chair in Educational Administration
Angeles city elementary school. The daughter of a Pullman porter and a in 1974.
school principal, Verna Blanche Johnson was
At the university “you could count the born in La Compte, La., in 1922. She earned Along the way, she married fellow Trojan
number of Blacks on one hand,” she recalled her bachelor’s degree from Wiley College, Peter W. Dauterive, who started Founders
decades later. The situation was similar in the which, like USC, had Methodist roots and Savings & Loan in South Los Angeles in
city school system, which had only four Black a proud history. In fact, Wiley made head- 1972 to help resuscitate the community after
teachers when she was hired. At 21, she was lines in 1935 when it beat USC in the na- the 1965 Watts riots. The couple played a key
also the youngest. tional debate championship, the first time a role in the founding of the USC Black Alum-
team from an historically Black college had ni Association and also funded scholarships
If any of that discouraged her, it didn’t show. claimed the title. for minority doctoral students in education.
After she earned her master’s in 1949, she
aimed higher, receiving an education doctor- USC broke racial barriers when it agreed After Peter’s death in 2002, Dauterive
ate in 1966 with a widely-cited dissertation to compete against Wiley. In that same era, pledged $25 million to build Verna and Peter
on the legal history of school desegregation in the university conferred a PhD on an Afri- Dauterive Hall, which is dedicated to inter-
the United States. can-American student who was believed to be disciplinary teaching and scholarship in the
She spent her entire six-decade career in the first on the West Coast to earn that dis- social sciences.
the Los Angeles school district, where her tinction, according to a 1969 history of USC
roles included coordinating the controversial by Manuel P. Servin and Iris Higbie Wilson. USC officials said the Dauterive gift was
program to bus minority students to schools the largest single donation from an African
in White neighborhoods in the 1970s. She So it may not be surprising that Dauterive American to a U.S. college or university.
was the highly regarded principal of Franklin felt welcome at predominantly White USC in
Avenue Elementary School in the Los Feliz the 1940s. “I found deans, faculty and presi- “‘SC has a great light on this earth and
area for 23 years, until her retirement in 2005. dents to be very engaging,” she wrote in 2010. that light has been very bright on our path-
She also was a member of the Califor- ways and our careers,” Dauterive told the Los
nia Commission on Teacher Credentialing, One of her first classes was with Irving Angeles Times in 2002. “It was very meaning-
which she chaired in the 1990s, and the Cali- R. Melbo, a professor of educational admin- ful to both my husband and me because it had
fornia Commission on the Status of Women. istration who would become one of the most the greatest influence on our careers and life
“She was not someone limited by race, influential deans in USC Rossier history. in general.”

“She adored him, and I’m sure Melbo saw
what a jewel she was,” Karen Symms Gallagher,

doctorate from USC in 1939, recalled in an interview decades later. The faculty’s USC ROSSIER 39 The First Century
vocal challenge of the administration, known as the “Revolt of 1946,” brought an
end to von KleinSmid’s 26-year tenure. Joyce King Stoops and Emery

Change was also afoot in the School of Education.
Like von KleinSmid, Dean Lester Burton Rogers had been in power for a

quarter of a century and his autocratic style no longer suited the times. When he
retired in 1945, the faculty successfully pressed for the right to manage the school
themselves through a number of ad hoc committees.

But the new system struggled with questions such as who would lead the
faculty meetings and sign the diplomas. The school, faculty members concluded,
needed a leader.

Although reluctant to leave teaching, Osman R. Hull, whose study had spurred
the reorganization of the Los Angeles school district’s central office, was named
dean in 1946.

His appointment was an effort to “counterbalance the tensions of the times,”
Levitt wrote in his history of the school’s early decades. “Dean Hull was a man
who by his mere presence and demeanor could mollify ruffled tempers.”

Hull acknowledged his faculty’s desire for a more democratically run school by
allowing them to organize into departments and choose the departmental chairs.
The move toward faculty specialization “brought prestige and enrollment to the
University,” Levitt noted, and allowed them to make the most of high-profile
scholars. “Public school specialists were gravitating toward USC because of the
names of Nelson, Melbo and La Franchi in administration; Lefever and Thorpe in
psychology …; Wagner in guidance; Naslund in elementary; and Finn in audio-vi-
sual, to mention just a few,” Levitt wrote.

The school’s prominence in Southern California likely helped it avoid the
struggles other education schools experienced in the years following the end
of the war.

“Young people have turned from education in such alarming numbers that,
while some state universities are bursting at the seams, many of our teacher col-
leges have fewer enrollees than they had 10 years ago,” researcher Emery Stoops
EdD ’41 wrote in Phi Delta Kappan magazine in 1947. Stoops would later join USC’s
School of Education and endow the Emery Stoops and Joyce King Stoops Chair in
Educational Administration. He noted that despite the massive influx of former
GIs, many teacher colleges had “as few as 3 percent of their students actually
preparing to teach,” and suggested that low wages and professional status were
the primary reasons. The result was a teacher shortage of such proportions that
he deemed it “education’s greatest crisis.”

At USC, the numbers painted a far rosier picture.
At the 64th commencement exercises in 1947, the university awarded 10 doc-
torates, 136 master’s and 128 bachelor’s degrees in education—more than 10 per-
cent of the 2,350 degrees conferred that year. The commencement—the largest in
the university’s history—was held in the Coliseum for the first time since 1942, the
Daily Trojan reported.
By 1950, Dean Hull noted in his annual report to the alumni, USC’s educa-
tion school was “second to none in the number of students who have qualified
for state credentials.” From July 1, 1949, to June 30, 1950, the state issued 799
credentials to teachers and administrators trained at USC, more than twice the
number of candidates prepared by any other university in the state.
The school also had a deservedly proud reputation as a producer of public
education leaders—principals, mid-level administrators and superintendents.
At a state education commission meeting in 1950, Hull noticed that
three-quarters of the district leaders present were Trojans. “I was almost embar-
rassed,” he said in an interview that year for the alumni magazine.



USC ROSSIER 41 The First Century


1. Send-off for USC students enlisting in the U.S. Armed Forces
2. USC members of Phi Delta Kappa, the national professional
education fraternity
3. Theodore Hsi-en Chen, Professor and philanthropist, leading
a seminar
4. USC pep rally


The Melbo Era

USC ROSSIER 43 The First Century

Although the abundance of Trojans leading California USC ROSSIER 45 The First Century

school districts was notable in Hull’s era, no dean would Verna B. Dauterive, Principal
of Franklin Avenue Elemen-
prove more effective at loading the leadership pipeline tary School, USC Trustee and
with USC graduates than Irving R. Melbo.

Acolleague of Hull’s in the study of public school administration,
Melbo took over in 1953 when Hull decided for health reasons to
return to teaching. Over the next two decades, Melbo led the school
to a number of milestones, including a tripling of the faculty and a
fivefold increase in the number of doctorates conferred.

“He was a legend,” said Guilbert C. Hentschke, who was dean from 1988 to 2000.
In 1961, Melbo created EDUCARE, an influential support group that would raise
tens of thousands of dollars for scholarships, fellowships, conferences and lec-
tures by distinguished educators. So many of the school’s alums worked in the Los
Angeles Unified School District that they could pay their EDUCARE dues through a
payroll deduction. “It gave us something like $40,000 a year,” said Karen Symms
Gallagher, who became dean in 2000, years after the group disbanded.
Melbo believed that the group would send an important message about the
School of Education, which had not mobilized its graduates the way USC’s other
professional schools had done with theirs.
“If those dentists and doctors and lawyers can do it, we can too,” Melbo said
in his initial pitch to a select group of the school’s alumni in 1960. “We’re just as
much a profession, even though we may not make as much money.”
With the strong support of USC President Norman H. Topping, Melbo pushed
for the creation of the Waite Phillips Hall of Education. Named after its Oklahoma
oilman benefactor, it was the tallest building on campus when it opened in 1968.
Melbo also proved that he had an eye for unique talents. Among the faculty he
hired were Laurence J. Peter, whose theory that in every organization people “rise
to their level of incompetence” made his 1969 book The Peter Principle an inter-
national bestseller, and Leo Buscaglia, who became a motivational speaker and
blockbuster self-help author focused on love and human relationships. Another of
Melbo’s astute hires was Earl V. Pullias, who was dean of the faculty at Pepperdine

Waite Phillips Hall under construction

College when he joined USC in 1958 to beef up the higher education program. His USC ROSSIER 47 The First Century
estate endowed the Pullias Center for Higher Education, now one of the School of
Education’s best-known research centers. Irving R. Melbo, Dean (1953–73), receives com-
mendation from Los Angeles County
But it was Melbo’s focus on administrative leadership that defined the School
of Education during his long tenure and cemented its reputation as a springboard
for aspiring superintendents. It offered savvy training as well as a formidable
network of alumni who held prominent jobs in public education.

Melbo shepherded the networking process personally. A former principal
and Oakland deputy superintendent, he hired retired superintendents for the
faculty and gave them tenure. He recruited local educators to pursue doctorates
and then helped them climb the next rung on their career ladder. He also sat on
superintendent search committees. The USC School of Education had supplied so
many districts with leaders over the years that the head of the search committee
or the outgoing superintendent was frequently a Trojan.

During the 20 years of Melbo’s deanship, the Los Angeles school district had
five superintendents, all of them USC graduates. Trojans also headed smaller
districts, including Alhambra, Burbank, Baldwin Park and Beverly Hills.

At the Los Angeles County Office of Education, three consecutive superin-
tendents had education degrees from USC: C.C. Trillingham PhD ’33, Richard M.
Clowes MS ’50 PhD ’60 and Stuart Gothold EdD ’74.

“When I received my degree, USC was the only game in town if you wanted
to be a superintendent,” said Gothold, who became county schools chief in 1979
and later a professor of education at his alma mater. “We had an absolute lock on
leadership in those days.”

Another student from the Melbo era was Max Rafferty, a conservative firebrand
known for his back-to-basics agenda. He earned his education doctorate from
USC in 1956 and ran a number of small California school districts, including Nee-
dles and La Cañada, before being elected to two terms as state superintendent of
public instruction, from 1963 to 1971.


Melbo kept a close eye on Trojans who wanted to lead school districts.
“There was a map of California on the wall of the placement office with pins to

show where Trojans were superintendents,” said Gothold, who maintained it for
Melbo for a brief time.

“When I was a student he said, ‘Stu, you need to consider going out into the
hinterlands, become a superintendent and work your way back in.’ That was the
way leadership worked in those days. It was tightly controlled,” Gothold said.

Those who became top administrators in Melbo’s day were mostly White men.
But the influential dean also reached out to women and people of color—what
few there were at USC during his era.

Melbo met Verna B. Dauterive in 1943 when she began working on a master’s
degree in education. That year the 21-year-old Louisiana native became one of
four Black teachers in the Los Angeles school district. She went on to a long ca-
reer as a principal and district administrator.

Melbo “supported me and gave me opportunities when it was not considered
the thing to do for a minority,” Dauterive, who completed her master’s in 1949 and
EdD in 1966, once wrote. “I respected and admired him.”

Because he worked closely with local school boards, the dean was in the
know when key jobs opened that could advance the careers of School of Educa-
tion graduates. Melbo became one of the most influential deans in USC Rossier’s
history in part by playing the role of education powerbroker.

“He was a towering figure,” said John B. Orr, who was dean in the 1980s. “He
was a very strong individual and he developed strong clinical relationships with
local school districts all over Southern California.”

The long list of prominent educators who came out of the Melbo era gave the





1. School of Education classroom
2. Earl V. Pullias, Professor and philanthropist
3. Japanese language instruction classroom
4. Dean Irving R. Melbo with members of EDUCARE
5. The John Tracy Clinic, USC partner in the education of hear-
ing-impaired children

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