LOS ANGELES (AP) — Steven Browning Sample, who was president of the University of Southern California for 19 years during which the school rose to international prominence, died Tuesday. He was 75.
Sample’s death was announced by USC, which did not indicate where the Pasadena resident died or the cause of his death.
He was USC’s 10th president from 1991 to 2010.
“It has been a calling, an all-consuming passion to move this university ahead farther and faster than any another university in the United States,” Sample said when he announced his retirement in 2009.
“Steven Sample was one of the greatest university presidents in the history of Los Angeles. He was my president when I lectured at USC, and from him I learned so much about leadership,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement.
Sample “led by example, instilling a culture of civic engagement and community outreach that earned the university countless honors,” the mayor said.
Before joining USC, Sample was president of the State University of New York at Buffalo from 1982 to 1991.
Under Sample’s leadership, USC saw its national college ranking soar. The Time/Princeton Review College Guide named it college of the year for 2000.
“Dr. Sample engineered arguably the most dramatic rise in quality and ranking of any American university,” John Mork, chair of the USC Board of Trustees, said in a statement.
The university said during Sample’s presidency, the number of endowed chairs and professorships rose from 152 to 403. Faculty member George Olah won the school’s first Nobel Prize in 1994 for his work in chemistry.
“So many of USC’s successes, so much of our university’s current stature can be traced back to Dr. Sample’s dynamic leadership, keen foresight, and extraordinary prudence,” current USC President C. L. Max Nikias said in a statement.
Sample also promoted the school’s overseas outreach, especially in Asia, where he opened international offices, and developed closer ties to the local community, including a program that aimed to prepare low-income students to apply to the university.
After retiring, Sample had a lifetime role as a trustee, co-taught an undergraduate leadership course and wrote a Los Angeles Times best-seller called “The Contrarian’s Guide to Leadership,” with all royalties donated to a scholarship fund for undergraduates.
Sample and his wife also donated a bronze statue of Traveler, the white horse ridden by a Trojan warrior mascot during home football games.