Board of Trustees
James M. Rosser, PhD
President Emeritus, California State University, Los Angeles
Dr. James M. Rosser served as President of California State University, Los Angeles from 1979-2013. In September 2013, he was named President Emeritus by the Board of Trustees of the California State University.
A native of East St. Louis, Ill., Dr. Rosser earned academic degrees in health education and microbiology from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale (Ph.D. 1969, M.A. 1963, B.A. 1962). In 2003, his alma mater awarded him an honorary doctorate, citing his pioneering efforts to advance the opportunities and contributions of African Americans in science and health care, which included his service on the National Board of Governors of the American Red Cross, the National Institutes of Health National Advisory Council on Aging, and the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Directorate for Education and Human Resources Advisory Committee.
Prior to his appointment at Cal State L.A., Dr. Rosser served as Vice Chancellor of the State of New Jersey Department of Higher Education (as Acting Chancellor in 1977) and as Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, where he was also a faculty member in pharmacology and toxicology and higher education.
Dr. Rosser served on the boards of many state and local community organizations, including the California Community Foundation, the City of Los Angeles’ Economy and Jobs Committee, the Rebuild Los Angeles task force, and the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Budget Reform.
Early in his career, Dr. Rosser was a research bacteriologist for Eli Lilly and Company. Over the ensuing decades, he has promoted science and engineering education; and he has sought ways to galvanize the synergies between science and engineering education, research, technology and industry. He has influenced state and national science policy as a member of the California Council on Science and Technology, the Citizens Advisory Committee of the Congressional Caucus for Science and Technology, American Council on Education’s Committee on Science and Technology, and several NSF and National Academy of Engineering panels and forums.
He served on the 22-member National Academies Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable Council and on the CSU Presidents’ Commission for CSUPERB – the California State University Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology. He championed a new collaborations between CSUPERB’s eight Los Angeles-area campuses and the Southern California Biomedical Council (a life-science industry trade association), and the Pasadena Bioscience Collaborative. The formal agreements strengthen the alignment between biological education and the biotechnology industry, thereby bolstering opportunities in life-science education, innovation, and workforce development.
Dr. Rosser received numerous awards, including the 2012 Reginald Wilson Diversity Leadership Award from the American Council on Education, the 2008 Frank W. Hale Jr. Diversity Leadership Award from the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education and the President’s Award for Diversity from ABET. In 2005, Pepperdine University awarded him an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws and he was named a distinguished member of the honor society Phi Kappa Phi. He was an Aspen Scholar for the 1995 Aspen Institute’s Executive Seminar, and in the same year received the National Science Foundation’s Educator Achievement Award.