The Alumni Service Award recognizes alumni for their outstanding volunteer efforts on behalf of the university. Weiss, who graduated from USC and earned a Masters of Public Administration in 1981, is a past chairman of USC’s Alumnae Coordinating Council and a longtime university volunteer.
“I began volunteering at USC as an undergrad and basically, I haven’t stopped,” Weiss told The Tribune.
With her entire family in attendance, Weiss told the audience she was “honored and humbled” to receive the award. Her husband and fellow USC grad, Aaron Weiss, previously received the same Alumni Service Award.
“I remember when Aaron received the award and I saw how emotionally touched he was,” Valerie continued. “I, too, am equally touched.”
Valerie is one of 23 members of her family to attend USC, a tradition started by her father, Marshall Gumbiner, a 1942 graduate of the USC Gould School of Law. Upon her own graduation from USC, Valerie worked at the USC Marshall School of Business as a graduate admissions officer, registrar and coordinator of the MBA Alumni Association. She also served as a program coordinator at the American Management Association.
In 2002, Weiss was named chair of the university’s Alumnae Coordinating Council. She has also served as president of both the Intersorority Parents Council and the Alpha Delta Pi Parents Club.
Over the years, she has fundraised for the Keck Hospital Guild of USC. In addition, she and Aaron are Chairman-level members of the USC Associates, the university’s premier academic support group, and also belong to Cardinal and Gold and the Committee.
An ardent USC sports fan, Valerie has missed “only a handful” of USC football games since 1970.
Her connection to USC, however, is even deeper.
“My grandfather used to own a building on the land that is now Birnkrant Hall,” Valerie said. “We used to park there for games and I remember as a little girl, walking to campus and singing the fight song.”
Two of the Weiss children, Alan (USC, 2005) and Andrew (2009) excelled as USC student athletes. Alan ran track, while Andrew played on the 2008 and 2009 Trojan Rose Bowl teams. Her other three children are also Trojans—Adam (2002), Aileen (2011) and Alden (2012), as is her daughter-in-law, Adam’s wife, Meredith (2008) and she envisions a cardinal-and-gold future for her grandson Joseph as well.
Past honorees include Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong (1970), world-renowned architect Frank O. Gehry (1954), opera great Marilyn Horne (1953) and Academy Award-winning filmmaker Robert Zemeckis (1973).
“It was nice,” Valerie said. “I enjoyed having my whole family celebrating with me.”
Other San Marino residents at the gala included Carol & Howard Kazanjian, Janice & Joe Conzonire, Karen & Clark Linstone, Lynn & Curtis Jung and Judy & Ben Reiling.