Trojans, Twice Over

Alumni feel the USC love all over again when they become Trojan parents.

February 29, 2016 Diane Krieger

After his daughter was admitted to his alma mater, Mike Lederer ’89 went to his computer and Googled the question, “How do I get involved at USC?”

“That’s how out of touch I was,” he says with a laugh. “I had no contacts.”

That was five years ago. Today, Lederer is connected in a big way to a community of Trojans. The USC Marshall School of Business alum serves on the boards of the Trojan Athletics Fund, the USC Price School of Public Policy and USC Associates. He counts Jack Knott, dean of USC Price, as a “dear friend” and frequent dinner guest. At his first USC Associates board meeting, Lederer hit it off so well with fellow inductee John Jenkins ’89 that they’ve become partners in various businesses. At USC Price, the two friends also spearhead the LEAP Program, which sends undergraduates on fully funded weeklong “labs” to tackle real-world policy challenges in places like Washington, D.C., and Singapore.

Caring for his children was Lederer’s chief concern when they were young, so he had understandably drifted away from USC. “My priority,” says the Westlake Village, California-based real estate investor, “wasn’t getting down to USC football games but getting to my 6-year-old’s soccer game.”

Now, Lederer has his kids to thank for his finding his way back to the Trojan Family. In addition to Amanda Levy ’14, who graduated from the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences as a psychology major, Lederer’s son Ryan is a freshman at the USC School of Cinematic Arts. Levy is now working on her master’s in the USC Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, and his other daughter, Eden, a high school senior, is eyeing USC to study theater next year.

Of course, proximity to Los Angeles isn’t a necessary ingredient for parental alumni involvement. Jacqueline Legorreta Erdman ’79, MBA ’83 is based in San Francisco and Jackson Hole, Wyoming. She had drifted away from the Trojan Family, but reconnected with USC as her daughter Mackenzie Erdman was starting college. These days she attends lots of Bay Area events hosted by USC Marshall; she especially enjoys those geared toward young entrepreneurs. Last spring she joined USC Associates, and has recently taken an interest in the new USC Kaufman School of Dance.

“It has really been a lot of fun to spend time in LA again,” Erdman says, “and to see the amazing transformations on campus. I’m so proud my daughter is there.”

Sandra Weber Lyon ’88 reconnected with USC as her older son, Jack Lyon, was finishing high school in Denver. Receptions for incoming students sparked her school spirit. For the past two years, Lyon has hosted the USC Alumni Club of Colorado’s SCend Offs, led its USC Day of SCervice projects, and planned its football game viewing parties and Trojan First Thursday events. In September, the family relocated to Seattle and she wasted no time contacting the local USC alumni club to get involved.

Jack is now a senior, and Sandra Lyon’s younger son, Henry Lyon, is a freshman, both at USC Marshall. “It’s really fun to have both boys there together,” she says. “USC is just the right place. The professors take such good care of them. I feel like it’s family.” Her husband, Tony Lyon, is on board, even though he’s a Bruin. “He walks the campus wearing a USC Dad T-shirt,” she says with a laugh.

Best of all, Lyon has a new sense of connection with her sons: Both got freshman housing in her old residence hall. “We are sharing meals, 30 years apart, in the same cafeteria,” she says. “That’s fun.”

Lyons photo by David Sprague; Lederers photo courtesy of the Lederer Family; Erdmans photo by Gus Ruelas.