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Rose-Hulman Mourning Death of Former President Samuel F. Hulbert

Friday, January 29, 2016
Hulbert Portrait

Inspirational Leader: Samuel Hulbert was Rose-Hulman's 11th president, leading the institute to become a national leader in undergraduate science, engineering and mathematics education.

The Rose-Hulman campus community is mourning today's death of President Emeritus Samuel F. Hulbert.

Hulbert, 79, was Rose-Hulman's president for 28 years (September 1, 1976 to June 30, 2004), the longest presidential tenure in institute history. Under his leadership Rose-Hulman emerged as a national leader in undergraduate science, engineering and mathematics education. He also was a recognized authority and pioneer in the use of ceramics in the design of orthopedic and dental implants and prostheses.

"Sam Hulbert left an indelible mark on this campus during his 28 years as president," said Rose-Hulman President Jim Conwell. "Sam was the institute's biggest cheerleader. Even in retirement, he took enormous pride in the faculty, staff, alumni, and students, and proudly celebrated their accomplishments. Everyone associated with Rose-Hulman owes a great debt of gratitude to him for the large number of contributions he made on this campus."

Hulbert enjoyed his retirement years in Naples, Florida, with his wife, Joy, who died on July 23, 2015. Survivors include three children: Gregory, Samantha, and Jeffrey, and 10 grandchildren. Gregory and Jeffrey are Rose-Hulman alumni.

At the time of his retirement in 2004, Hulbert had presented diplomas to 70 percent of Rose-Hulman's living alumni. The institute's basketball arena in the Sports and Recreation Center is named in Hulbert's honor.

Major accomplishments for Rose-Hulman during Hulbert's 28 years as president included:

  • The college changed to coeducational status in 1995.
  • Rose-Hulman gained a national reputation in science, engineering, and mathematics by consistently ranking as the nation's best college that offers the bachelor's or master's degree as its top degree in engineering; its faculty have been recognized for their teaching and scholarly excellence; and several academic programs have earned national honors by their peers.
  • Enrollment doubled while the college continued to attract academically talented students. The number of faculty also doubled, making it possible for the institute to maintain a 13-to-1 student-faculty ratio.
  • The largest fund-raising program in the college's history, the Vision to be the Best campaign, raised $230 million. This included the largest gift in Rose-Hulman history, a $29.7 million Lilly Endowment Inc. grant that created Rose-Hulman Ventures, located on the institute's South Campus. This entity has made it possible for students to receive career-related, educational opportunities while providing important economic development services to Indiana businesses.
  • Rose-Hulman's student retention and graduation rates became among the best of any private engineering college or university in the nation.

In addition to serving as president, Hulbert was a member of the Rose-Hulman faculty, teaching courses in biomaterials, biomechanics, introduction to design, and the design of artificial organs. He also mentored several graduate students in biomaterials. A faculty chair in biomedical engineering at Rose-Hulman was named in Hulbert's honor in 2010, supporting summer professional development for a selected faculty member and research opportunities for undergraduate students.

Hulbert came to Rose-Hulman after serving as dean of the School of Engineering and professor of bioengineering at Tulane University from 1973 to 1976. He also spent nearly 10 years at Clemson University, serving as associate dean for engineering research and interdisciplinary studies along with being director of materials engineering and bioengineering, head of the division of interdisciplinary studies, and professor of materials and bioengineering. He started his teaching career as a mathematics and physics instructor at Alfred University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in ceramic engineering in 1958 and a doctorate in ceramic science in 1964.

Hulbert was author of nearly 275 papers presented at national and international conferences, and served on the editorial boards of such significant medical publications as the Journal of Biomedical Material Research and the Journal of the International Society of Artificial Organs. He also was former president of the Second World Congress on Biomaterials and chaired the Third International Symposium on Ceramics in Medicine.

A native of Adams Center, New York, Hulbert received numerous international and national honors for his educational leadership and contributions to the field of biomaterials. These honors included:

  • Election to membership in the International Academy of Ceramics, 1990
  • Founder's Award from the Society for Biomaterials, 2001
  • George Winters Award from the European Society for Biomaterials
  • Medal of the Italian Society of Orthopaedics
  • Named a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering and Society of Biomaterials
  • Named a member of the State of Indiana's prestigious Sagamore of the Wabash honor society
  • Elected to the Indiana Academy, 1990
  • Recipient of the Indiana Health Industry Forum's Lifetime Achievement Award, 1996
  • Named a Who's Who in Engineering, Who's Who in Frontiers of Science and Technology.
  • Awarded honorary degrees from Rose-Hulman, Indiana University, Indiana State University, and Clarkson University
  • The Society of Biomaterials' Samuel F. Hulbert Fund established to support young investigators in the field of biomaterials
  • Clemson University establishment of the Samuel F. Hulbert Award in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the field of biomedical engineering
  • Former president of the Association of Independent Technological Universities, which includes Massachusetts Institute of Technology, California Institute of Technology, and other nationally known institutions

In concert with the Hulbert family, Rose-Human will host a memorial event on campus to celebrate Hulbert's life and legacy. Details are still pending.