HomeObituariesMemorial Service Planned for Steven B. Sample Tomorrow

Memorial Service Planned for Steven B. Sample Tomorrow

There will be a memorial service for Steven B. Sample on Friday, April 8 at 9 a.m. at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, 555 W. Temple Street in Los Angeles.

Dr. Steven Sample, former president of the University of Southern California, passed away on Tuesday, March 29. He was 75 years old.

During his 19-year presidential stint between 1991-2010, Dr. Sample lived in the university owned residence in San Marino. In 2008, he was named The Tribune’s ‘Citizen of the Year.’

Often referred to as a true “Renaissance Man,” Sample was an individual of many talents – electrical engineer, innovative leader in higher education, musician, inventor, outdoorsman, author and teacher. He was born in St. Louis, Missouri, on Nov. 29, 1940. His mother, Dorothy Cunningham Sample, was a civic activist, and his father, Howard E. Sample, worked as a sales manager for an electric motor company. At the age of 14, performing as a timpanist, he became the youngest member of the St. Louis Philharmonic, launching his lifelong passion for percussion instruments. He married his college sweetheart, Kathryn Brunkow of Park Ridge, Illinois, while both were undergraduates at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

After earning three electrical engineering degrees he took a job with Melpar, Inc., a research and development firm in Virginia, where he led research on the Gemini-7 space flight laser communicator program, and also conducted extensive studies of laser wave propagation through turbulent atmospheres for NASA.

In 1966 he accepted a faculty position at Purdue University, then continued his academic career at the University of Illinois and the University of Nebraska. During this time he invented and patented several devices, including digital appliance controls and touch pads used in more than 300 million microwave ovens and other home appliances worldwide.

In 1982, at the age of 41, he was named the 12th president of the State University of New York at Buffalo. During his tenure, SUNY Buffalo significantly expanded the scope of its research enterprise, achieved standing as a member of the Association of American Universities, and made the transition to NCAA Division 1 status.

Dr. Sample joined the University of Southern California in 1991 as the institution’s 10th president. Under his leadership, USC solidified its status as one of the nation’s leading research universities and emerged as a world leader in the fields of communication, multimedia technologies, and life sciences. The number of freshman applicants more than tripled and the student body grew increasingly diverse. Endowed chairs and professorships rose and USC became the first university in the nation to receive five gifts of $100 million or more. Recognizing USC’s ambitious community partnership programs, Time magazine/Princeton Review named USC ‘College of the Year 2000.’

After retiring as president in 2010, Dr. Sample remained active in the life of the university. He served on the USC Board of Trustees as a life trustee, and for a time he continued to co-teach the popular undergraduate course “The Art and Adventure of Leadership” with the late management expert Warren Bennis – often inviting his students to join him as he played the drums during impromptu rhythm jam sessions. He also wrote a Los Angeles Times best-seller, “The Contrarian’s Guide to Leadership,” which has been translated into six languages; its royalties fund scholarships for USC undergraduates.

A member of the National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Dr. Sample received numerous awards for his contributions to higher education, engineering and the nation. These include the IEEE Founders Medal, the Heart of the City Award from the Central City Association of Los Angeles, and the Chancellor Charles P. Norton Medal, the highest award bestowed by SUNY at Buffalo. He has also received the Humanitarian Award from the National Conference of Christians and Jews, the Hollzer Memorial Award from the Jewish Federation Council of Greater Los Angeles, the Cardinal’s Award from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the Eddy Award from the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation, and the Alumni Award for Distinguished Service from the College of Engineering at Illinois. In April 2011, USC presented Sample with its highest honor, the Presidential Medallion.

Dr. Sample co-founded the Association of Pacific Rim Universities, a consortium of 45 leading research universities in the Pacific region, and served as chairman of the Association of American Universities. He served on the board of directors of companies as varied as Moog Inc. and Litton Industries, First Interstate Bancorp of Los Angeles, and Studio Arena Theatre. He also served on the Executive Committee of the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges. He was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and The Bohemian Club in San Francisco.

Throughout his career, Steven Sample was known as a determinedly independent thinker who valued other perspectives and fresh ideas. He was a distinguished electrical engineer with a great love of the arts, literature, poetry, history, philosophy, engineering and science. He loved the outdoors, particularly hiking in the Grand Canyon.

Most important of all to him was his family. Throughout his adult life, Kathryn Sample was his closest confidante and most trusted advisor. Her mother, Evelyn Moorman Brunkow, was a beloved family member, and he adored his daughters Michelle and Elizabeth, son-in-law Kirk Smith, and grandchildren Kathryn and Andrew.

Steven and Kathryn Sample Hall at USC is named in the honor of Dr. Sample and his wife, who established the USC Renaissance Scholar Endowment, which supports juniors and seniors who excel in widely disparate fields of study.

Dr. Sample is survived by his wife, Kathryn, daughters Michelle Sample Smith and Elizabeth Anne Sample, son-in-law Kirk Charles Smith and grandchildren Kathryn Marie Smith and Andrew William Sample Smith.

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that gifts in memory of Dr. Sample be sent to any one of the following charities: The Sample Fellowship Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies at USC at http://ifacs.com/ or contact Father James Heft, Heft@usc.edu; Carmelite Sisters, 920 East Alhambra Road, Alhambra, California 91801 In support of the Neighborhood of Care for the Elderly at Santa Teresita at http://www.santa-teresita.org/santa-teresita-about/, or the Fanconi Anemia Research Fund, 1801 Willamette Street, Suite 200, Portland, Oregon 97401 at http://fanconi.org/


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular

[bsa_pro_ad_space id=3]