Steven B. Sample


Steven B. Sample
Steven B. Sample
Associated organizations
State University of New York


Steven B. Sample (29 November 1940 - 29 March 2016), president of the University of Southern California (USC) from 1991 to 2010, received the IEEE Founders Medal in 2008 for his lifelong work and support of electrical engineering; which included contributions as a leader in higher education, a practicing engineer, an educator and as an author.

Dr. Sample began his career in electrical engineering in 1966 as an associate professor in the school of engineering at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana. In 1982, he became the president of the State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo, where he also held a faculty appointment in the department of electrical engineering. Under his leadership, he led the SUNY campus to become a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. In 1991, Dr. Sample was appointed president of USC and became a tenured faculty member in the engineering school, which has become one of the top 10 engineering schools in the U.S. Dr. Sample led the most successful fundraising campaign in the history of higher education at the time, raising nearly $3 billion for the institution. Dr. Sample’s research in digital electronic controls for appliances resulted in patents that have been licensed to major manufacturers of appliance controls and microwave ovens.

An IEEE Life Fellow, he was a past recipient of the IEEE Outstanding Paper Award. He was a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was the author of the best-selling book The Contrarian’s Guide to Leadership. He held bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana. In addition, he received honorary doctorates from eight institutions.