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Rosse resigns as provost to head newspaper chain
STANFORD -- Provost James N. Rosse, Stanford University's chief academic and budget officer since 1984, has accepted the position of president and chief executive officer of Freedom Newspapers Inc., in Irvine, Calif., effective April 16.
Rosse, a nationally recognized authority on the economics of newspapers and communications media, was elected to his new post by the Freedom Newspapers board of directors Monday, Jan. 20.
"It is time to do new things," said Rosse, 60. "My long research experience and involvement with communications industries makes the strategic leadership of a group of this kind an appealing challenge.
"These are industries that are important, in trouble and needing to find their roles in the changing technological and economic environment. It is an unusual opportunity for an academic with my background and interests."
Second in command at the university, Rosse sent a letter Dec. 31 to President Donald Kennedy, resigning as provost effective April 15. He emphasized that his resignation date will permit him to oversee completion of Stanford's current budget-cutting and strategic-planning process, and present its results to the Board of Trustees and Faculty Senate in April.
Kennedy said that within the next few weeks he will recommend to the trustees an interim provost to serve from April 16 until the university's next president is named and selects a permanent successor. Kennedy said he would consult with university deans and the faculty advisory board before proposing a candidate.
Stanford is conducting a search and hopes to name its ninth president by June. Kennedy announced in July that he would leave Stanford's presidency in August 1992 after 12 years.
Kennedy praised Rosse's "seven years of distinguished service" during which he has "been devoted to the quality of this faculty and to the support of its efforts in teaching and research." He said that Rosse also has "given superb leadership to our efforts to make Stanford's administrative organization more effective."
The leap to journalism is a short one for Rosse, the son of a Nebraska sometime newspaper writer and editor. Rosse first set type at age 4, and as a young man worked in newspaper production in Omaha and Minneapolis. From one such job at the Minneapolis Star and Tribune, he went to the University of Minnesota, where he earned his bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in economics.
He has been a consultant and expert witness to government and industry on many communications issues, including telephone regulation and "joint operating agreements," under which newspapers in the same city merge financially but retain separate editorial identities.
At Freedom Newspapers, Rosse will head an enterprise whose flagship is the daily Orange County Register, with a circulation of 350,000. It also owns 26 other daily newspapers - the majority of them in California and the South - 15 weekly papers, five television stations and a cable television news service.
Rosse, who has taught at Stanford since 1965, said he accepted the offer from Freedom Newspapers because it is large enough "to give room to the ambition I have in this area. While not a Gannett, is is of sufficient size to do some important things."
He said the first challenge will be to "find the right program of development - in economics and communications - that will best serve the interests of the stockholders, employees, readers and viewers, and, thus, the public interest."
Rosse will succeed D. Robert Segal, who is retiring as president and chief executive officer of Freedom Newspapers. Segal will remain a member of the board and adviser to the company.
Rosse, who for several years has expressed his interest in stepping down as Stanford provost, said that he did not look for another job in academia "because I don't think there's one that could match the one I'm leaving.
"I have to tell you that the last seven and a half years have been as challenging and rewarding an experience of academic leadership as anyone could want," he said. "This is a remarkable institution.
"If you look at events right at the time I'm leaving, it may seem hard to celebrate. But over the long haul, what we've built here will pay huge dividends. And when I say 'we,' I mean that I've had the privilege of recruiting all the deans and playing a role in the recruitment of most of the vice presidents, and they are a remarkable group."
Lively term as provost
As provost since 1984, Rosse has presided over the university's academic programs and the operating budget.
While the unrelenting budget crises of the past few years have claimed public attention, Rosse's tenure also included the much-debated revision of the Western Culture curriculum, as well as the beginning and completion of the record-breaking Centennial Campaign, which has raised $1.2 billion in donations.
He oversaw the launching of the redevelopment of science facilities in the Near West campus; the creation of the Institute for International Studies; the flowering of Stanford's innovative interdisciplinary programs; the most extensive analysis of race and ethnic relations ever conducted on campus, the study by the University Committee on Minority Issues; and the decision to return bones held by the Stanford Museum and the anthropology department to the Ohlone Indian tribe.
In 1983, just before becoming provost, Rosse chaired a group that advised Kennedy on the academic advantages and disadvantages of locating the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library on campus and recommended its location here. The library ultimately was built in Southern California.
Much of Rosse's recent tenure as provost has been consumed with budget issues. Having already overseen a restructuring of the university's budget-making process, on Feb. 8, 1990, he announced the first news of "repositioning," the process by which $22 million would be cut from the operating budget to prepare for foreseen slowdowns in income.
Since that day, events such as the damage from the 1989 earthquake, the national recession and the indirect-cost controversy have created larger deficits. The budget Rosse will present to trustees in April results from a campuswide effort to close a $43-million budget gap over the next two years.
Before succeeding psychology Prof. Albert Hastorf as provost in 1984, Rosse was the first director of Stanford's Center for Economic Policy Research, which was founded in 1982 to focus Stanford's already well- established economics expertise on issues of public policy.
He served as associate dean of the school of humanities and sciences from 1978 to 1982, and was chairman of the department of economics in 1974- 75 and vice chair before that. He also was chairman of the committee on undergraduate studies from 1975-77 and chairman of the Faculty Senate's influential committee on committees in 1978-79.
In 1976, Rosse was in the first group to win the dean's awards for distinguished teaching in the School of Humanities and Sciences. He was a Ford Faculty Fellow in 1969-70.
Aside from his interest in communications industries, his academic specializations include microeconomic theory, applied econometrics, and industrial organization and public policy. He supervised more than 20 doctoral graduates in industrial organization and related fields.
His research interest in media dates back to his 1965 doctoral dissertation, which was an econometric study of economies of scale in newspapers.
"When I came to Stanford, I brought that interest with me and expanded it to other areas of media economics and economic regulation," he said. "In the middle 1970s, the industries I was principally interested in from a research standpoint - newspapers, television, cable TV, telephone, satellite communications - became lively targets for regulation and litigation due to changing economics and technology. It became important, given my research interests, that I get involved in policy aspects. From then until I became provost, I was involved and able to add a great deal of empirical knowledge to my research and teaching, while playing significant roles in shaping public policy."
Rosse said he has requested the allowed two years of leave without salary from his tenured faculty appointment, with the expectation of assuming emeritus status at the end of that time. He and his wife, Janice, will move to Orange County. They hope to return to the Stanford community after retirement, he said.
They had lived in the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Hanna House, home to recent Stanford provosts, until damage from the October 1989 earthquake led them to move to their own home in the Stanford campus Peter Coutts condominium complex in February 1990.
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