March 29, 2016

Dear USC community,

With tremendous sadness, I am writing to share the news that Steven B. Sample—USC’s venerable and beloved tenth president—has died peacefully in Los Angeles, surrounded by his family.  During his exceptionally productive tenure, which spanned nearly two decades,

Dr. Sample led our university on its dramatic, historic ascent.  Thanks to his tactical leadership, prudent foresight, and fixed dedication, USC became one of the most selective universities in the nation, attracted nationally renowned faculty, increased its international stature and reach, and built enduring, meaningful partnerships with its local communities.  Dr. Sample also oversaw a landmark fundraising campaign—which, at the time, was the most ambitious in the history of higher education.  Indeed, Dr. Sample’s contributions to USC are so profound, so consequential that generations from now, our community will still reap their direct benefits.

On a more personal note, Dr. Sample was also a very special human being, and a charismatic presence on our campuses.  He stood over our Trojan Family, and commanded that rare mixture of admiration, affection, and authority.  Dr. Sample taught scores of students, generously advised faculty, and stopped routinely to speak with—and encourage—staff.  For me, Steve was an invaluable mentor throughout my tenure as engineering dean and provost.  I know so many Trojans around the world join Niki and me in sending heartfelt condolences to his wife,

Kathryn Brunkow Sample, and the entire Sample family.

We will pause to remember Dr. Sample at an interfaith prayer service at 12 noon on Wednesday, March 30 in front of Tommy Trojan.  I hope you can join us.


C. L. Max Nikias