Anthony Curreri, M.D., a well known thoracic surgeon, was USU's first president. He took a three-year leave of absence from the University of Wisconsin to become president of USU. But, Curreri, already familiar with the National Capital Region having spent much of his medical career treating politicians, including former House Speaker Sam Rayburn, didn't stay long. He returned to the University of Wisconsin once USU's charter class enrolled in 1976.
USU's second president, David Packard, started the computer company Hewlett-Packard out of his garage in Palo Alto. This space was later dubbed the birthplace of Silicon Valley by the state of California. Although a hugely successful business man, Packard ultimately chose a career in public service. He was appointed Deputy Secretary of Defense by President Richard M. Nixon before coming to USU. At USU, he served as both president and chairman of the Board of Regents.
Jay Sanford, M.D., took the helm after David Packard retired. He brought extensive experience to the university, and the mission really flourished under his leadership. During most of his 15 year tenure, Sanford held concurrent positions as dean of the medical school and president of the university. He was an accomplished academician,– his Sanford Guide to Antimicrobial Therapy is still one of the most widely read medical references in the world – but, Sanford was best known on campus for his adventurous spirit. He rappelled down the sides of university buildings, parachuted from airplanes and completed field training with the medical students he taught at USU.
James Zimble, M.D., the fourth president, was also an amiable leader. The retired vice admiral and former surgeon general of the Navy made daily rounds through USU's corridors to meet all levels of personnel at the university. He also delivered impromptu lessons about military medicine to the university's up-and-coming physicians. During these times, Zimble often drew inspiration from his military service, which includes more than 35 years in the Navy, several deployments, oversight of an integrated worldwide master plan for military medicine, and countless other leadership positions across the globe.