A Lasting Legacy

USC's Science Hall is renamed in honor of former president James Zumberge. The late author and adventurer is praised for his leadership, integrity and achievements by President Sample, who also lauds Zumberge's widow as the ‘consummate first lady.’
By Meaghan Agnew
"I am deeply indebted to James Zumberge," President Steven Sample said.

Photo/Meaghan Agnew
USC’s Science Hall has been renamed Zumberge Hall in honor of the late James Zumberge, the university’s ninth president.

“I am deeply indebted to Dr. James Zumberge for the outstanding legacy he left at USC. The momentum the university enjoys today is a testament to his exceptional leadership, impeccable integrity and impressive achievements,” said President Steven B. Sample, who dedicated the hall during a brief ceremony Nov. 11.

Zumberge’s widow, Marilyn, was in attendance, along with three of the couple’s four children. Sample honored her past and present contributions to the university.

“Marilyn Zumberge was USC’s consummate first lady, and Jim’s confidante and counselor,” Sample said. “Today she remains dedicated to the university through her participation in numerous alumnae and support organizations.”

Zumberge succeeded John Hubbard as president in 1980, the year of USC’s centennial anniversary. During his tenure, USC raised more than $640 million and attracted more than $700 million in sponsored research. He retired in 1991.

Upon his retirement, the Faculty Research and Innovation Fund, originally established by Zumberge in 1983 to enhance faculty research within the university, was renamed the James H. Zumberge Research and Innovation Fund.

Zumberge earned his bachelor’s degree and a Ph.D. in geology from the University of Minnesota. He was an instructor and professor of geology at the University of Michigan from 1950 to 1962 before beginning his educational administrative career.

He served as founding president of Grand Valley College in Michigan from 1962 to 1968; was dean of the College of Earth Sciences at the University of Arizona from 1968 to 1972; and served as chancellor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln from 1972 to 1975.

Prior to USC, he was president of Southern Methodist University from 1975 to 1980.

Zumberge, who died in 1992, was the author of 10 books, including the 1963 educational text “The Elements of Geology.”

A consummate adventurer, Zumberge made frequent voyages to Antarctica and was one of the continent’s earliest environmental advocates. He held several national appointments in conjunction with his research, including chair of the Antarctic Research Commission from 1984 to 1987.

Two namesake regions on the continent honor his legacy: Cape Zumberge, Antarctica, so named in 1960, and Zumberge Coast, Antarctica, named in 1986.