March 16, 2012

American Council on Education honors Rosser

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- James M. Rosser, a three-degree graduate of Southern Illinois University Carbondale and president of California State University, Los Angeles, was presented the 2012 Reginald Wilson Diversity Leadership Award during the 94th annual meeting of the American Council on Education (ACE), held in Los Angeles earlier this week.

According to a news release from ACE, the award is named in honor of Reginald Wilson, senior scholar emeritus at ACE and former director of the association’s Office of Minority Concerns.  It is presented each year to an individual who has made outstanding contributions and demonstrated sustained commitment to diversity in higher education.

The news release also notes:

Throughout his tenure as president at Cal State L.A. and his entire career, Rosser has been a champion for access to quality higher education for underserved communities and has advanced programs that increase diversity in education and in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.

“James Rosser's record of leadership and service to higher education is driven by the inspiring idea that diversity and excellence are inseparable,” said Diana Córdova, assistant vice president for Leadership Programs at ACE. “It is an honor to present him with this award and have him join the ranks of such distinguished past winners.”

For more than 30 years, Rosser has overseen a campus that is among the most diverse in the nation in the ranks of its faculty and its student body. Cal State L.A. has established an outstanding and lengthy record of sending underrepresented students on to Ph.D. and professional degree programs across the country.

Rosser, a respected leader within the 23-campus California State University (CSU) system, has led many initiatives that have improved student and faculty success. He is one of the lead presidents for CSU's African American Initiative as well as the convening president for the CSU Presidents' Council on Underserved Communities. In the mid-1980s, Rosser authored the original plan for today's highly successful Chancellor's Doctoral Incentive Loan Program. The program enables CSU to develop faculty from its own diverse student body by forgiving a portion of doctoral student loans for Ph.D. students who return to accept qualifying instructional positions in the CSU system.

Rosser's dedication to diversity is also reflected in his service on many boards of national, state and local organizations, including the Los Angeles Urban League, the California Community Foundation, the Los Angeles Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation and the Alliance for College-Ready Public Schools. Among other work with higher education associations and accrediting groups, he served on ACE's Commission on Advancement of Racial and Ethnic Equity from 2004-07.

Rosser has received numerous other awards and accolades, including the Black Engineer Alumni Group Lifetime Educators Award, the 100 Black Men of Los Angeles' Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Frank W. Hale Jr. Diversity Leadership Award from the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education. He was an Aspen Scholar for the 1995 Aspen Institute's Executive Seminar and also received the National Science Foundation's Educator Achievement Award in 1995.

Before his Cal State L.A. appointment, Rosser served as vice chancellor of the State of New Jersey Department of Higher Education and acting chancellor in 1977. Rosser was a tenured faculty member and senior associate vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Kansas, where he also served as a member and vice chair of the University Press of Kansas editorial board. He earned academic degrees in health education and microbiology from Southern Illinois University Carbondale (Ph.D. 1969, M.A. 1963, B.A. 1962), where he also served as a faculty member, assistant to the chancellor and founding director of the Black American Studies Program.