Last updated 10/11/2021
(Deceased August 29, 2010) Like several of his colleagues, retirement was not retirement in the traditional sense. Robert P. Biller remained an active member of the USC community as a member of the Retired Faculty Association, for which he served as president in 2005–07. In this position, he worked closely with the USC Emeriti Center to create a greater understanding about retirement issues for retirees and for those getting ready to retire. He continued to serve on the Emeriti Center’s Executive Committee until 2009 and participated in numerous projects and events. During 2007–08, Bob served on the Academic Senate and its Faculty Environment Committee as well as the university’s Committee on Academic Policies and Programs. His goal was to emphasize the importance of retirees and to draw the university’s attention to this invaluable resource. He also remained a consultant to the director of the Skirball Center in West Los Angeles, where he had volunteered for more than twenty years, and was a Fellow of the California Council on Science and Technology. He did what he enjoyed doing most and declined the unenjoyable. For Bob Biller, this was the best part of retirement—being active because he wanted to be, not because he had to!
Dr. Robert P. Biller (Professor Emeritus, School of Policy, Planning, and Development) came to USC in 1976 as the Dean of Public Administration. He went on to serve in several other positions including Vice President for External Affairs, Vice President for Undergraduate Affairs, and Executive Vice Provost. In 1993 he returned to the School of Public Administration where he taught mainly freshman courses and then helped to merge the School of Public Administration with the School of Urban Development, which then became the USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development. After the development of the school, he served as its interim dean from 1998–2000. Among other accomplishments, he was able to establish an endowment for the School of Public Administration and reinstate the production of the campus course catalog in the mid-1980s after a seventeen-year gap in publication. He received USC’s Presidential Medallion in 1998. He retired from his full-time status in 2001. Bob is survived by his wife, Yvonne, son and daughter-in-law Martin and Elisa, and grandchildren Jason Benjamin and Rachel Elizabeth. He was predeceased by his son Kevin Michael.
“Retirement should not be viewed as a loss but an opportunity to do new things. This is a time when people can do the things they did not have time to do while working full time. There are things you should plan for such as finances and health care. The sooner the better, for this way if something unexpected comes up you won’t be unprepared. Keep track of your own health records, too. This is especially important because the older one gets, the more likely they may be to have an incomplete health record and no access to earlier records.”
Paul E. Hadley 2010 Recipient
Robert P. Biller, professor emeritus of public administration and a longtime USC administrator, remained active in university life even after retiring from full-time status in 2001.
Dr. Biller was president of the USC Retired Faculty Association from 2005 to 2007 and continued to serve on its board of directors until 2010. Through Bob’s leadership, he raised the visibility of the retired faculty and staff in the University community. Bob set up an intensive communication with faculty retirees to encourage their interest in maintaining connections with their colleagues and the University, and to promote service to USC and the larger community. In retirement, Bob served on several USC committees where he advocated for increased recognition of faculty retirees, and for their continued participation in University committees and other activities.
He also served as a volunteer associate director and as a member of the executive committee of the USC Emeriti Center from 2005 to 2009. He was a valuable advisor to the Emeriti Center and a major advocate and cheerleader for Emeriti Center activities and for increasing the financial support of the USC administration for the Emeriti Center. He also served as an important resource and advisor for the Staff Retirement Association (SRA). All of these activities resulted in much greater visibility, recognition and appreciation of individual retirees, of the EC, and of the RFA and SRA as important components of the greater University community.
During the 2007-2008 academic year, Bob served as a member of the Academic Senate’s Faculty Environment Committee and USC’s Committee on Academic Policies and Programs, where he focused on drawing attention to the potential contributions of retirees.
Besides his activities on behalf of his fellow retirees, Bob cared greatly about students. During his chairmanship of the California Student Aid Commission, he successfully lobbied, together with then USC president Steven B. Sample, for significant increases in state-supported financial aid for California college students.
In summary, Bob Biller spent his retirement years in continued, meaningful, and successful service to USC retirees and to the entire University. He will be dearly missed.