California State University, Los Angeles dedicated James M. Rosser Hall at a moving ceremony where hundreds of people paid tribute to the university’s legendary former president.
Rosser led Cal State LA for 34 years, longer than any other president in the university’s history. He was selected as the sixth president in 1979 and retired in 2013.
Photo: Cal State LA President Emeritus James M. Rosser addresses the crowd during the Rosser Hall dedication on April 10, 2017. (Credit: J. Emilio Flores/Cal State LA)
The April 10 dedication, one of a number of events during the university’s 70th anniversary year, was held on a warm spring afternoon in front of Rosser Hall, formerly Wing B of the Wallis Annenberg Integrated Sciences Complex. The complex opened during Rosser’s tenure and features state-of-the-art science laboratories and equipment.
Rosser spoke fondly of his decades of service at Cal State LA, thanking family, friends and colleagues who helped him along the way. He credited the university with having some of the best faculty members in the nation and lauded their dedication to the mission of quality with diversity. “I remained here because the people here really believed in the mission,” Rosser said. “The greatest asset that any university has is the quality of its faculty and students.”
Cal State LA President William A. Covino presented Rosser with a proclamation in recognition of his decades of service to the university. Then, as streamer cannons fired, music played and the crowd cheered, the signage on the newly named hall was unveiled.
“Buildings on our campus carry the names of individuals who have done great things: John F. Kennedy Memorial Library, Martin Luther King, Jr. Hall, and Ruben F. Salazar Hall,” Covino told the gathering. “The building that we name today, James M. Rosser Hall, is a permanent hallmark to President Rosser’s innumerable contributions. Great minds will study in this hall, wonderful discoveries will be made here, and President Rosser’s legacy will continue for generations to come.”
California State University Chancellor Emeritus Barry Munitz, who has known Rosser for six decades, noted that Cal State LA is ranked number one in the nation for upward student mobility. He credited that ranking to Rosser’s leadership and vision. “All of you stand in honor of that extraordinary accomplishment,” Munitz told the crowd.
Among those who attended the dedication were Cal State LA alumna and former Congresswoman and California State Senator Diane Watson, President and CEO of PBS Southern California Andrew Russell, Cal Poly Pomona President Soraya Coley and CSU Channel Islands President Emeritus Richard Rush. The emcee for the event was Cal State LA Executive Vice President Jose A. Gomez.
“Rosser was a scientist, educator and philanthropist who transformed Cal State LA and helped shape the City of Los Angeles into a model for diversity and inclusiveness,” Gomez said.
Rosser was a pioneering administrator in higher education. He was the first African American to lead Cal State LA and the second Black person appointed to serve as president in the California State University system, which is the largest public university system in the United States.