USC's Top Honor for Biller
WHEN PRESIDENT Steven B. Sample telephoned to say that Robert P. Biller had been selected as the 1998 recipient of the university’s highest honor, the Presidential Medallion, a wave of nostalgia swept over the professor of public administration.
“I remember drafting the description of the award and working through how the idea was to be implemented,” says Biller, who has taken on a striking array of administrative posts during his 22 years at USC.
That Biller would have helped launch USC’s top honor some 15 years before actually receiving it just illustrates how far-reaching his impact has been. He is being honored for the selfless way he has served as a “creative and visionary administrator.” That’s just another way of saying, “playing utility fielder,” Biller says. “In my research, I’ve focused a lot on institutions or organizations under conditions of uncertainty and rapid change. At USC, I’ve had so many chances to test and expand my knowledge about cooperative systems and what it takes to make change possible.
“It’s great that the institution recognizes contributions made by the people who make up the institution,” he says. “One of us draws the short straw each year, and it fell to me this year.”


Sample, left, and Biller

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