Norman Topping, USC alumnus and distinguished medical researcher and administrator, was serving as vice president for medical affairs at the University of Pennsylvania when elected as the seventh president of USC on May 27, 1958.
A native of Missouri, Dr. Topping came west for his education and received A.B. (1933) and M.D. (1936) degrees from USC. After an internship with the Public Health Service, he was assigned to research work at the National Institutes of Health. Topping developed the first effective treatment of Rocky Mountain spotted fever and developed the typhus vaccine. In 1948, he was appointed associate director of the NIH and assistant surgeon general of the U.S. Health Service. In 1952, he accepted the vice presidency at the University of Pennsylvania.
Topping was installed as USC president on Oct. 23, 1958, in Bovard Auditorium. Chancellor von KleinSmid presided over the traditional ceremonies before an audience of 1,800 persons.
The ceremony opened with a procession of academic representatives in full regalia, including 280 delegates from colleges, universities, learned societies, and educational organizations from throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico. Asa V. Call, president of the USC board of trustees, inducted Topping and presented him with a mace symbolic of his new office. Topping's inaugural address discussed 10 tenets that would be the guideposts of his administration. A highlight of the ceremony was the first public performance of an "Anthem of Wisdom," composed by USC music instructor Robert T. Linn.
Topping is chiefly known as the architect and administrator of USC's Master Plan for Enterprise and Excellence in Education, a forward-looking academic blueprint that required more than $100 million to implement. The goal was met and exceeded in only five years. In the period of academic growth that followed, USC was elected to the Association of American Universities, research expenditures rose 300%, endowment funds increased four-fold, and 45 new buildings and related facilities were added to the campus.
Topping retired from the presidency and was named chancellor in 1970.