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C. L. Max Nikias Inauguration

James H. Zumberge

James Zumberge.jpgJames H. Zumberge (1980-1991), scientist, educator and administrator, left the presidency of Southern Methodist University to become USC's ninth president. He assumed the presidency on Aug. 3, 1980, and was installed as USC's ninth president on May 10, 1981.

Dr. Zumberge earned B.A. and Ph.D. degrees in geology from the University of Minnesota. The author of 10 books and numerous journal articles, Zumberge was chief glaciologist for the U.S. Ross Ice Shelf Project in Antarctica for the International Geophysical Year (1957-58) and served as chief organizer for three subsequent Antarctic expeditions. Cape Zumberge, Antarctica, was named in his honor in 1960.

Zumberge began his career in educational administration as president of Grand Valley State College in Michigan (1962-1968). He served as dean of the College of Earth Sciences at the University of Arizona (1968-1972), chancellor of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (1972-1975) and president of SMU (1975-1980).

Zumberge's inauguration was the highlight of the USC centennial-year celebration, which drew to a close with the spring commencement in June 1981.

The ceremony introduced three new elements that set it off from previous inaugurations - new academic robes, new heraldic banners, and a presidential medallion minted for the presentation by the chairman of the board of trustees to the new president.

The academic pageantry began in Alumni Memorial Park when long, straight Renaissance-style trumpets sounded a fanfare. Twenty-one heraldic banners - symbolic of each of the university’s academic units - were carried in the inaugural procession by an honor student from each discipline.

Roger W. Heyns, president of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, offered the "Charge to President Zumberge." Carl Hartnack, chairman of the board of trustees, then conferred upon the new president the presidential medallion, which bears the USC seal on one side and the presidential seal on the other.

In his inaugural address, Zumberge called for renewed commitment to excellence in research and professional education and for increased attention to the undergraduate curriculum in the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

Among the accomplishments of the Zumberge years were the development of the exhaustively researched "Academic Planning for USC," a document that set forth the goals that became the basis for the Campaign for USC, which exceeded its $557 million goal by $84,574,718. A Presidential Commission on Undergraduate Education developed programs to enhance the freshman experience and provide access to research opportunities and honors programs for undergraduates. In the Zumberge decade, USC attracted more than $700 million in sponsored research and began or completed 15 new facilities.

Zumberge was named president emeritus upon his retirement in 1991.


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