Logo: University of Southern California

Eta Kappa Nu Engineering Honor Society Awards USC President Steven B. Sample Eminent Member Status

November 01, 2005 —
USC President Steven B. Sample became the 108th Eminent Member of Eta Kappa Nu (HKN), the national honor society for electrical and computer engineering, on Oct. 31 in a noontime celebration in the Ronald Tutor Hall Dean’s Boardroom.
Sample, an electrical engineer, was honored by 40 fellow Eta Kappa Nu members, including about two dozen USC student members. Also attending were USC trustee Malcolm Currie and and USC alumnus Marcus Dodson, who are also Eminent Members.  Sample was honored for his extraordinary leadership skills as 10th president of the University of Southern California.

Karl Martersteck, HKN national president, right, congratulates USC President Steven B. Sample on becoming an Eminent Member of Eta Kappa Nu, an honor society for electrical and computer science engineering students and professionals.

“It’s wonderful to be with my fellow Eta Kappa Nu members,” Sample said in accepting the award.  “That Eta Kappa Nu had its roots at my alma mater — the University of Illinois — makes this award specially meaningful.”

“Eminent Member” status is Eta Kappa Nu’s highest membership classification for electrical and computer engineers. The honor is conferred by the HKN Board of Governors upon those whose attainments and contributions to society through leadership in engineering have resulted in significant benefits to humankind.

HKN Executive Director Robert M. Janowiak said, "Steve Sample epitomizes the best in academic leadership, especially in further developing USC's School of Engineering to a level of national preeminence. His presidential tenure has resulted in substantially increased research programs."

Under Sample’s leadership, USC conducted the most successful fundraising campaign in the history of higher education raising nearly $3 billion. Spurred by this momentum, the USC Viterbi School of Engineering raised $200 million in the first half of a seven-year fundraising initiative. Investing $150 million annually in research expenditures, the school ranks at or near the top in research funding per tenure-track faculty member. The school's graduate program consistently ranks in the top 10 — and top five among private schools — in U.S. News & World Report rankings.

Sample said becoming an engineer was among the “four or five best decisions I’ve ever made…because it cultivates skillful analysis, creativity and judgment.”

“Engineers are in the business of solving problems and expanding human potential,” he told the audience, which included about two dozen USC engineering students who are members of the honor society.  “I know that the analytical skills and the desire to solve problems that I’ve cultivated as an engineer have certainly made me a better university president.”

He said it was exciting to see USC in the vanguard of pursuing solutions to some of society’s most pressing problems.

“Globalization is being driven, to a certain extent, by engineers,” he said. “It is outstanding leaders, advisors, alumni, professors and students such as you who are enhancing not only the stature of our engineering profession but also USC’s stature as an academic and research powerhouse.”

President Steven Sample poses with members of Eta Kappa Nu during his induction into Eminent Member status in the honor society.

Sample became the 10th president of USC in March of 1991. The university's first holder of the Robert C. Packard President's Chair, Sample is also an electrical engineer, a musician, an outdoorsman, a best-selling author, and an inventor.

In February of 1998, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering for his contributions to consumer electronics and leadership in interdisciplinary research and education. Sample has also contributed to countless journal articles and published numerous papers in science and engineering and higher education.

Sample earned his bachelor of science, master of science and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1962, 1963, and 1965, respectively. He has received honorary doctorates from the University of Notre Dame (2005), Northeastern University (2004), the University of Nebraska (1995), Purdue University (1994), Hebrew Union College (1994), the University of Sheffield, England (1991), and Canisius College, Buffalo (1989).

Sample has also received a number of awards from civic organizations and educational institutions, including the Chancellor Charles P. Norton Medal from SUNY Buffalo, a Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Department of Electrical Engineering at the University of Illinois, and the Humanitarian of the Year Award from the National Conference for Community and Justice.

Eta Kappa Nu is a 100-year-old honor society for electrical and computer engineering students and professionals which recognizes excellence in academic accomplishments, leadership, outstanding character, and service.  The society includes four Nobel Prize winners and a history of more than 200,000 members and 200 university chapters.