John R. Hubbard, a historian and former U.S. ambassador to India who was president of USC in the 1970s, died Sunday at his Rancho Mirage home after a long illness, the university announced. The broad-shouldered and outspoken Texas native, widely known as “Jack,” was 92.
During his decade-long presidency, Hubbard was credited with helping to boost the University of Southern California’s finances and academic reputation. But his term also was marked with controversies over donations from the shah of Iran and from corporations doing business in Saudi Arabia.
USC’s current president, C.L. “Max” Nikias, said Hubbard’s presidency established a foundation for the school’s subsequent rise in national rankings in scholarship and research. “I greatly admired his keen mind, his quick wit, his passion for history, his service to our country and his love of this university,” Nikias said in a statement.
Hubbard, who was an expert on British diplomatic history and U.S.-India ties, continued to teach part-time at USC until he was 91, even if it meant sometimes leaning on a walker. “He was a strong, tough Texan, no question about it,” said friend John Callaghan, a USC associate professor of kinesiology, who also recalled Hubbard as a first-rate scholar with a global perspective. “He really knew a tremendous amount about the growth of the British Empire, its stability and its eventual decline,” Callaghan said.
I was pleased to serve on USC’s President’s Advisory Council under President Hubbard. I and many others cut their teeth on politics working in student government at USC.
In 1969, Hubbard was named provost and vice president of academic affairs at USC, and the next year he became USC’s eighth president. During his tenure, applications to the school nearly tripled, 10 major buildings were begun or completed, and new programs were established in communications, urban planning, gerontology and hydrocarbon science, officials said.
Rest in peace.