Former USC President Steven B. Sample was remembered on campus Wednesday as a man of deep faith who reached out to diverse religious groups.
During an interfaith prayer service, several speakers recalled how the transformational university president hired non-traditional leaders after creating USC’s office of religious life in 1996.
The original dean, Rabbi Susan Laemmle, was the first non-Christian to hold such a position at a large U.S. university, according to USC. After she retired in 2008, Sample picked Varun Soni, a Hindu.
Sheikh Jamaal Diwan addresses over 100 people gathered at Hanh Plaza on the campus of USC for an interfaith prayer service held in memory of Steven Sample. (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)
Sample, an Episcopalian who prayed daily, sent USC safety officers to a Muslim mosque near the South L.A. campus on Sept. 11, 2001, to provide additional security after the terrorist attacks. He also was instrumental in bringing the Shoah Foundation, a repository of Holocaust testimonials established by filmmaker Steven Spielberg, to the campus.