Samuel F. Hulbert


Honorary Degree (2003)
Doctor of Science
Location: Bloomington
Presenter: Adam William Herbert


A biomedical engineer internationally recognized for his design and development of ceramic prosthetics, Samuel Hulbert has led the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology through a period of unprecedented growth and quality improvement. As president of the Terre Haute, Indiana, engineering school, Hulbert has, since 1976, steered the institute to national prominence; the last four years in a row, U.S. News & World Report has ranked Rose-Hulman as the top engineering college in the country among those that award undergraduate and master's degrees.
"Through his leadership, his vision and ideas, and his incredible energy level," says William G. Bannon, M.D., former trustee of Indiana University, "Sam Hulbert has brought Rose-Hulman from a 'good' private engineering school to the very best engineering and science undergraduate school in the nation. In so doing, he has performed a valuable service for the state of Indiana, the Midwest, and the entire country." "Rose-Hulman has risen to new heights because of Dr. Hulbert's vision, innovation, fundraising, and sheer energy," concurs William C. Perkins, professor of information systems and decision sciences at Indiana University's Kelley School of Business and an alumnus of Rose-Hulman.

A native of New York state, Hulbert received a B.S. in ceramic engineering from Alfred University in 1958, and earned a Ph.D. from the same university in 1964. He took a teaching post at Clemson University, where he rose to become a professor of materials engineering and bioengineering, and associate dean for engineering research. In 1973, he moved to Tulane University. At Tulane his leadership skills were again utilized; when he left Tulane to take the presidency of Rose-Hulman three years later, he was dean of the School of Engineering.
During Hulbert's tenure at Rose-Hulman, enrollment has nearly doubled; more than $90 million in new facilities have been completed or are under construction; and the academic program has developed into a national model for undergraduate engineering, mathematics, and science education. Hans Giesecke, president of the Independent Colleges of Indiana consortium, says, "What is truly remarkable about Rose-Hulman is the institute's focus on its students' personal and academic development. This has been accomplished largely by Dr. Hulbert's vision of incorporating research into the academic program at an early stage."

Hulbert is both a gifted administrator and a renowned scientist in the area of ceramics engineering. His research, begun more than 30 years ago, studied the interaction of ceramic materials and bone tissue, and demonstrated that bone would grow into grooves on implant surfaces. Today, thanks to Hulbert's groundbreaking research, ceramics are used routinely for both dental and orthopedic implants to promote bone growth; he is the author of more than 250 papers on ceramics, materials science, and implant technology. The Society for Biomaterials has awarded Hulbert its two most prestigious prizes: in 1998 the C. William Hall award, and in 2001 its Founders Award for landmark contributions to the discipline.

As the driving force behind the endowment of a new Biomedical Engineering Program at Rose-Hulman, Hulbert spearheaded the establishment of the joint Indiana University Doctor of Medicine-Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering program. The program provides students who are principally interested in the practice of medicine the opportunity for in-depth study in the application of engineering principles. Graduates of the program will receive the degree of M.D. from the Indiana University School of Medicine and the M.S. degree from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.
Hulbert clearly has a vision of service for himself and the institute. "I believe the more you put into your community, the more you'll get out of it," Hulbert has said. He is on the boards of directors of the Rotary Club, Boy Scouts of America, Grow Terre Haute, Alliance for Growth and Progress, Sheldon Swope Art Gallery, Children's Science Museum, and the Indiana Chapter of the Leukemia Society of America. Hulbert serves as chairman of the Terre Haute Industrial Development Committee, and has dedicated a great deal of time and energy to improving the lives of Hoosiers in the southwestern part of the state. Under his leadership, a program called Rose-Hulman Ventures uses the resources of the technology institute and the human capital of the area to create new jobs; in addition, an innovative homework hotline for science and math tutoring of regional middle and high school students has been imitated nationwide.

For contributions to his field, Hulbert has been named a fellow in biomaterials by the Society of Biomaterials, elected as a fellow in the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, elected to the Indiana Academy, and named to the International Academy of Ceramics. Clemson University has named an award in biomaterials in his honor, and he has received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Indiana Health Industry Forum. To honor his broader contributions to education, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education bestowed the Executive Leadership Award, and Hulbert has received honorary doctorates from Clemson University and Indiana State University.
Erik N. Jansen, principal of the consulting firm Jansen, Remmers, Nichols & Bernier, Inc., and a graduate of both Rose-Hulman and Indiana University's Kelley School of Business, calls Hulbert "an exceptional example of intellect, commitment, leadership, compassion, and creativity." He adds, "Indiana is indeed fortunate to count him among its citizens."