John “Jack” Randolph Hubbard, eighth president of USC and U.S. Ambassador to India, died Sunday and was immediately remembered by colleagues and friends alike.
President C. L. Max Nikias announced Hubbard’s death at Salute to Troy on Sunday afternoon.
Hubbard served as president between 1970 and 1980.
Nikias said Hubbard was a true leader and a distinguished historian.
“He was a man of tremendous breadth and a champion of our faculty and students. We look forward to a celebration of his life and the legacy that has forever changed USC,” Nikias said in an email.
Hubbard came to USC in 1969 and served as vice president and provost for one year. In 1970 he was unanimously voted to succeed Norman H. Topping as university president.
During Hubbard’s tenure, the push to transform USC into an elite academic institution truly began.
Hubbard was known to have said, “It seemed, to me, that this would be a good time, strategically, to become aggressive as a university.”
This initiative propelled the grade point average for admitted freshmen to 3.4 on a 4.0 scale, began the construction of many major buildings and initiated programs with the surrounding community, promoting the inclusion of minority groups into the university.
Hubbard prided himself on having international connections. He formed relationships with schools in Asia and the Middle East to promote exchange programs between schools and set up many alumni clubs to connect the USC student body around the globe.
With the goal of transforming USC, he also launched the “Toward Century II” campaign, which raised more than $306 million in gifts and pledges and helped establish USC as one of the top 20 research universities in the United States.
Hubbard stepped down as president in 1980 and returned to teaching classes in history.
Steven Ross, former chair of the history department during Hubbard’s teaching years, said Hubbard was a unique character.
“Hubbard was an inspiring person as a teacher and as a human being,” Ross said. “He was one of the most dedicated teachers I have met.”
Prior to his appointment to USC, Hubbard served as chief education adviser for the International Development Agency missions in New Delhi from 1965 to 1969.
In 1988, President Ronald Reagan appointed Hubbard the U.S. ambassador to India.
Hubbard joined the Navy during World War II and served as a naval aviation pilot. He was awarded four Air Medals and the rank of lieutenant commander for his outstanding service.
“Flying just came easy to me,” Hubbard said in a 1988 video interview.
In 2003, as a commemoration to Hubbard’s services to his country as well as the university, USC renamed the student services building John R. Hubbard Hall.
Aside from his passion for education, Hubbard had a deep-rooted love for USC athletics.
He used to send in football plays to then-coach John Robinson.
“The team might be able to fare reasonably well even without Hubbard to send in plays,” Robinson said.
Hubbard earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees in history from the University of Texas, was a professor of European history at Yale University and dean and associate professor of British and European history at Tulane University from 1953 to 1958.
Nikias said a memorial service for Hubbard will be held in October.