August 1, 2017

Former CGU President Steadman Upham Passes

Steadman Upham and John Maguire
Former CGU President Steadman Upham, left, with former President John Maguire

In spring 2004, then-Claremont Graduate University President Steadman Upham was reflecting on social networks and the good they can accomplish; how connected individuals can improve understanding, shape perceptions, and spread information about their institutions.

“The greatest source of nurture, support, interest, and enthusiasm for any university arises directly from those who know what the institution stands for and what its graduates have accomplished,” he wrote in that year’s spring issue of The Flame.

He may have been describing himself. Under Upham’s supportive and enthusiastic presidency, CGU grew stronger, enjoyed increased financial stability, and expanded its national profile.

It is with great sadness that Claremont Graduate University announces the passing of Upham, who served as president from 1998 to 2004. He passed away July 31 from complications connected to a recent surgery.

“CGU thrived under Stead’s accomplished leadership and genuine regard for the institution and its people,” said Jacob Adams, CGU’s interim president. “And though he moved on to other challenges, we never fell far from his attention and affection. Just this past February, he and I met in Los Angeles to talk about the university’s development, its potential, and the leadership it deserves as we build toward our centennial. His enthusiasm was palpable, and his keen interest in his friends’ and colleagues’ growth was clear. CGU benefits from his successes still, and his example holds lessons for us all.”

Upham received a PhD in anthropology from Arizona State University, and worked at the University of Oregon from 1990 to 1998 as vice provost for research, dean of the university’s graduate school, and a professor of anthropology.

During a six-year tenure at CGU, Upham forged an outstanding legacy. The years of his presidency saw:

  • The doubling of the endowment from $67 million to more than $135 million.
  • The bolstering of the university’s information science, mathematical sciences, and religion programs.
  • The initiation of a campus master plan for growth and expansion.
  • The completion of the university’s most successful fundraising campaign: $54 million raised on time and over goal.
  • The genesis of the university’s transdisciplinary initiative, with the creation of the Kozmetsky Chair and Kozmetsky Fellows.

After leaving CGU, Upham joined the University of Tulsa, serving as president there until 2012. He returned after a year, at the request of that university’s Board of Trustees, to resume his role and later retired in 2016 with plans to return as an anthropology faculty member.

In 2015, TulsaPeople magazine named him “Tulsan of the Year” and he was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame.

Upham is survived by his wife, a son, a daughter, and two grandchildren.