Los Angeles, November 3 -- The Southern Illinois University (SIU) Alumni Association recently honored California State University, Los Angeles' President James M. Rosser as one of its 1999 SIU Distinguished Alumni, for his outstanding professional accomplishments and exemplary service to his alma mater.
Dr. Rosser, who earned academic degrees in health education administration and microbiology from SIU at Carbondale (Ph.D. 1969, M.A. 1963, B.A. 1962), was honored along with James R. Fornear, founder and board member, Res-Care, Inc.; Kathleen B. Fralish, founder and president, Center for Comprehensive Services; Mark Victor Hansen, coauthor, Chicken Soup for the Soul book series; and Joan E. Higginbotham, international space station capsule communicator, Johnson Space Center.
Dr. Rosser has a lifelong commitment to education and high achievement. The youngest of eight children and an East St. Louis, Illinois native, Dr. Rosser graduated at the top of his senior class. As only the second African American and the youngest person to ever head a California State University campus, Dr. Rosser accepted the appointment as president of Cal State L.A. in 1979. This academic year, Dr. Rosser entered his third decade of leadership at Cal State L.A.--one of the most ethnically diverse universities in the nation--with an annual enrollment of more than 19,000 students and more than 141,000 graduates granted degrees.
A visionary leader, President Rosser has taken Cal State L.A. through its mid-century mark, preparing the University for the next millennium. Under his leadership, Cal State L.A. has been ranked in the top 20 of the nation's "master's colleges and universities" in the number of baccalaureate graduates who go on to receive doctoral degrees in science and engineering.
Dr. Rosser's vision and commitment to the now internationally-known Solar Eagle solar car project brought the achievement of Cal State L.A. students to national attention as it competed with and won against leading engineering schools in North America. His leadership brought the University's School of Education to the forefront of educational reform, as it became the Charter School of Education--the first and only school of higher education in the country.
In the Arts, Dr. Rosser worked to provide a site on campus for the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts and the University's major professional performing and visual arts venue, the Luckman Fine Arts Complex, and supported the rebirth of L.A.'s leading dance festival, Dance Kaleidoscope.
Dr. Rosser's 20-year tenure at Cal State L.A. saw the construction of on-campus residence apartments and a new student union, the establishment of the Pat Brown Institute of Public Affairs and the Edward R. Roybal Institute of Applied Gerontology, and the installation of the only Metrolink commuter station on a college campus. Recently, he oversaw a multi-million dollar campus landscaping, building renovation and seismic upgrading project that made the campus safer, more environmentally and fiscally efficient and more beautiful. With the completion of a $31 million engineering and technology laboratory remodeling project, Cal State L.A. will have a state-of-the-art facility in line with those of the country's most prestigious universities.
His recent community activities include appointments to the boards of directors and/or leadership participation with numerous organizations including the Los Angeles Urban League, Sanwa Bank of California, Southern California Edison International, Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, LA's Best, the California Chamber of Commerce, the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship Foundation, the Los Angeles Annenberg Metropolitan Project, and more.
A former administrator and faculty member at Southern Illinois University, Dr. Rosser was the founder and first director of SIU's Black American Studies Program. He also served as a special assistant to Chancellor Robert W. MacVicar in 1970. After leaving SIU, he was selected as senior associate vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Kansas in 1970. He became vice chancellor for the State of New Jersey Department of Higher Education in 1974. While attending SIU, he was an honor student and a member of the Saluki basketball team for two years. In 1986, he received SIU's Alumni Achievement Award for the College of Education. He is a lifetime member of the SIU Alumni Association.
Public Affairs Offices/Campus News