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ACE Honors James M. Rosser for Commitment to Diversity in Higher Education

March 13, 2012


James M. Rosser, the sixth president of California State University, Los Angeles (Cal State L.A.), today was awarded the 2012 Reginald Wilson Diversity Leadership Award by 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, and was presented at ACE's 94th Annual Meeting in Los Angeles, CA. It is given every year to an individual who has made outstanding contributions and demonstrated sustained commitment to diversity in higher education.

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 at 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.

Rosser joins a distinguished list of prior award recipients who have shown an unfailing commitment to advancing diversity in higher education.

Previous Reginald Wilson Diversity Leadership Award winners include: Nancy Cantor, chancellor and president of Syracuse University (NY); Bob H. Suzuki, former president of California State Polytechnic University, Pomona; Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County; Eduardo J. Padrón, president of Miami Dade College (FL); William E. Cox, president and CEO of Diverse: Issues in Higher Education; Frank L. Matthews, editor-in chief of Diverse: Issues in Higher Education; James C. Moeser, chancellor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Diana S. Natalicio, president of the University of Texas at El Paso; Tomás Arciniega, president emeritus, California State University-Bakersfield; Jacquelyn Belcher, former president, Georgia Perimeter College; Jewel Plummer Cobb, president and professor of biological science emerita, California State University, Fullerton; Alfredo G. de los Santos, Jr., former vice chancellor for educational and student development, Maricopa Community Colleges (AZ), and research professor, Arizona State University; James J. Duderstadt, president emeritus, University of Michigan; Juliet V. García, president, University of Texas at Brownsville; Kenneth Gros Louis, chancellor, Indiana University-Bloomington; Tom Joyner, nationally syndicated radio personality and philanthropist; Frank H.T. Rhodes, president emeritus, Cornell University (NY); and John Brooks Slaughter, president and CEO, The National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, Inc.

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