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Steven Sample

Steven B. Sample
12th President of the University at Buffalo
In office
Preceded by Robert L. Ketter
Succeeded by William R. Greiner
10th President of the University of Southern California
In office
Preceded by James Zumberge
Succeeded by C.L. Max Nikias
Personal details
Born 1940
United States of America
Alma mater University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Profession Electrical engineering, Higher education, Academic administration
Religion Judaism

Steven Browning Sample (born November 29, 1940)[1][2] was the 10th president of the University of Southern California (USC).[3] He became president in 1991 and was succeeded by C.L. Max Nikias on August 3, 2010.[4] Prior to his presidency at USC, Sample was the 12th president of the University at Buffalo (UB) in the State University of New York (SUNY) system from 1982 to 1991.[1] He was succeeded by William R. Greiner.[1]


  • Education 1
  • Career 2
    • University at Buffalo presidency 2.1
      • Honors 2.1.1
    • University of Southern California presidency 2.2
      • Fundraising 2.2.1
      • Construction projects 2.2.2
      • Research 2.2.3
      • Teaching 2.2.4
  • Book authorships 3
  • Personal life 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Sample holds B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he was a member of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity.


University at Buffalo presidency

Sample was president of the University at Buffalo from 1982 to 1991,[1] and was succeeded by William R. Greiner.[1] While president, he gained fame for upgrading the long-languishing sports program,[1] and for guiding the university into being a major research institution.[1] Accordingly, the university's academic functions were consolidated under the office of the provost, in a major change from prior tradition.


In 2004, Sample was honored by UB with the Charles P. Norton Medal, the highest honor given by the university.[1][5] Also in 2004, a scholarship fund was established in Sample's honor to go toward funding four years for an undergraduate who is a student in the Engineering and Applied Sciences Department, as well as being in the University Honors Program.[1][5]

  • 2004 Charles P. Norton Medal[1][5]
  • Scholarship Fund in Sample's Honor[5]

University of Southern California presidency

Sample with the 2007 USC Trojans football team, celebrating a victory.

Under Sample's leadership, USC has become world-renowned in the fields of communication and multimedia technologies, received national acclaim for its innovative community partnerships, and improved its status as one of the nation's leading research universities. In 1999, USC was ranked #41 among universities in the United States by U.S. News & World Report.[6] In 2010, the final year of Sample's term, USC was ranked #26 in the same listing (USC is now ranked #23).[7] In 2008, his own salary was $1.9 million.[8]

USC announced on November 1, 2009 that Sample would step down as its president in August 2010.[4][9] He explained that he wanted to see "fresh leadership" take charge.[9] Since stepping down as President, and following a one year sabbatical, Sample has taught a course at USC with Warren Bennis.[3]

On August 3, 2010, C.L. Max Nikias became the 11th president of the university.


Sample’s fundraising initiatives raised more than $430 million for sponsored research.[3] He led two strategic planning processes to improve the university on the whole.[1] During his term, the university also conducted the second most successful fundraising campaign in the history of higher education, raising nearly $3 billion.[3] These donations included major contributions of $112.5 million from Alfred Mann to establish the Mann Institute of Biomedical Engineering, $120 million from Ambassador George Lucas to the School of Cinematic Arts.

Construction projects

Sample has overseen the construction of a number of important structures at USC.[3] These include the Leavey Library, Popovich Hall, the International Residential College at Parkside, the Arts and Humanities Residential College at Parkside, and Ronald Tutor Hall.[3] Additional construction projects have included the

Academic offices
Preceded by
James H. Zumberge
10th President of the University of Southern California
Succeeded by
C. L. Max Nikias
Preceded by
Robert L. Ketter
12th President of the University at Buffalo
Succeeded by
William R. Greiner
  • Steven B. Sample University at Buffalo presidential biography
  • University of Southern California, President website
  • Appearances on C-SPAN

External links

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Office of the President: Our past presidents: Steven B. Sample, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY: State University of New York at Buffalo, 2014, Retrieved 3 June 2014.
  2. ^ Steven Browning Sample, Marquis Who's Who, New Providence, NJ: Marquis Who's Who LLC, 2014, Retrieved 3 June 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j About us: Steven B. Sample: President Emeritus website, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA: University of Southern California, 2010, Retrieved 3 June 2014.
  4. ^ a b C. L. Max Nikias named 11th president of USC, USC News, Los Angeles, CA: University of Southern California, 11 March 2010, Retrieved 3 June 2014.
  5. ^ a b c d e Former UB president honored with fund, Buffalo News, Buffalo, NY: Berkshire Hathaway, 2 June 2004, Watson, S., Retrieved 3 June 2014.
  6. ^ collegiate poll helps illustrate continued institutional progressU.S. News & World Report says: Latest nationwide U.S. NewsUSC keeps high ranking, , USC News, Los Angeles, CA: University of Southern California, 20 August 2007, Grant, J., Retrieved 3 June 2014.
  7. ^ National university rankings: #23: University of Southern California, U.S. News & World Report, New York, NY: U.S. News & World Report LP, 2014, Retrieved 3 June 2014.
  8. ^ Staff reports: Vandy chancellor among top earners, The Tennessean, McLean, VA: Gannett Co., Inc., 14 November 2010, Retrieved 14 November 2010.
  9. ^ a b c USC chief to step down: The president who led dramatic increases in academic prestige and..., Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles, CA: Los Angeles Times, 1 November 2009, Gordon, L., Retrieved 3 June 2014.
  10. ^ About USC: A brief history: Steven B. Sample (1991-present), USC Catalogue 2006–2007, Los Angeles, CA: University of Southern California, 2006, Retrieved 3 June 2014.
  11. ^ a b c Sample, Steven B. (2002). The contrarian's guide to leadership, first edition. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
  12. ^ President of USC is fighting Parkinson's disease: Health: Steven B. Sample is the latest in a series of prominent Americans to publicly acknowledge being diagnosed with the neurological disorder, Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles, CA: Los Angeles Times, 8 December 2001, Retrieved 3 June 2014.


Sample was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 2001,[9] but said he would not let it affect his duties as president.[12] Sample is a resident of San Marino, California.

Personal life

  • Sample, Steven B. (2002). The contrarian's guide to leadership, first edition. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. ISBN 0-7879-5587-6

Sample published a book, The Contrarian's Guide to Leadership, in 2002.[11] It explains his personal leadership philosophy and provides advice to readers.[11] More specifically, it details his style of leadership in the context of USC's rise as an institution in his decade as president.[11]

Book authorships

Sample had a passion for teaching and education at USC. He taught several classes to students in different fields and different class levels.[3] Most recently, he taught "The Art and Adventure of Leadership" with Warren Bennis.[3]


Sample is the author of numerous journal articles and published papers in science and engineering and in higher education.[1] His patents for digital appliance controls, particularly touch pads on microwave ovens,[1] have been licensed to practically every major manufacturer of appliances in the world. Over 300 million home appliances have been built using his inventions.



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