Gift from alumnus Harlan A. Helvey to benefit USC accounting program

$15 million gift will support renovation of 90-year-old structure to be renamed Harlan A. Helvey Hall

February 17, 2016 Lynn Lipinski, Julie Tilsner

Future students at the USC Leventhal School of Accounting will benefit from state-of-the-art collaborative learning spaces and new integrated distance learning classrooms, thanks to the generosity of investor Harlan A. Helvey ’64, MBA ’71. His $15 million gift will fund renovation of the historic accounting building, upgrading and customizing the 1920s-era building to support today’s technological and collaborative needs. The building will be renamed Harlan A. Helvey Hall in his honor.

“Harlan’s extraordinary generosity dramatically expands the opportunities we can offer our students, faculty and wider community,” said James G. Ellis, dean of the USC Marshall School of Business, of which the USC Leventhal School of Accounting is part. “His vision will have a positive impact on business and accounting leaders for generations to come.”

Helvey’s naming gift will support the complete renovation of the 90-year-old accounting building into a state-of-the-art facility “equal to any in existence,” said William W. Holder, dean of USC Leventhal.

This magnificent gift enables us to develop a technologically advanced and sustainable physical facility.

William W. Holder

“Over the years USC Leventhal has provided an exceptionally strong accounting education to generations of students,” he said. “This magnificent gift enables us to develop a technologically advanced and sustainable physical facility, thereby allowing Leventhal to provide a truly elite educational experience.”

History lesson

The accounting building was designed and built in 1926 by Parkinson Field Associates, the prominent Los Angeles architectural firm that had been commissioned by university leaders in 1919 to develop the first campus master plan. Built on what was then known as University Avenue, a main north-south axis route through campus, auto traffic and the Red Car trolley sped past. The building was home to the USC schools of law, then social work, before being rehabilitated for the accounting school in 1982. The school was named for Kenneth and Elaine Leventhal in 1996, in honor of their generous support.

A lifelong resident of Manhattan Beach, Helvey graduated from El Segundo High School and attended one semester at El Camino College in Torrance, where he excelled as an accounting major. With a head for numbers and a keen eye for business opportunities, he said USC offered him the best route to his future.

Helvey, a dean’s list student, earned a BS in accounting from USC in 1964 and went on to become a Certified Public Accountant and real estate investor. A member of the Alpha Gamma Sigma and Beta Gamma Sigma honor societies, Helvey earned an MBA with an emphasis in accounting from the business school in 1971.

“I have been fortunate to be able to give back to the USC accounting school something of value, hopefully comparable to the value the accounting school gave to me,” Helvey said.

USC Leventhal is an integral part of the USC Marshall School of Business, the oldest business school in Southern California. In addition to offering an undergraduate accounting degree, the school offers highly ranked master’s programs in accounting and tax, including the Jennifer and James R. Parks Master of Business Taxation Program. In addition to the full-time, one-year program, an online master program in business taxation allows working professionals to earn their degrees during evenings over two or three years.

Helvey’s gift supports the Campaign for the University of Southern California, a multiyear effort that seeks to raise $6 billion or more in private philanthropy to advance USC’s academic priorities and expand its positive impact on the community and world. Four years after its launch, the campaign has raised more than $4.8 billion.