Henry S. Rowen, Stanford business professor and U.S. policymaker, dies at 90

Henry S. Rowen, an American policymaker and economist at Stanford, died on Nov. 12 at the age of 90. He was a leading scholar on U.S. and Asian economic growth and a national security expert.

Henry S. Rowen

Stanford Professor emeritus Henry S. Rowen, shown here in 1984, died in Palo Alto at age 90. (Image credit: Ed Souza/Stanford University)

Henry S. Rowen, an American policymaker and economist at Stanford, died suddenly in Palo Alto on Nov. 12.

A leading scholar on economic growth in the United States and Asia and a national security expert, Rowen started his career as a Rand Corp. economist and in 1983 became a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. At Stanford, he was also the Edward B. Rust Professor of Public Policy and Management, emeritus, at the Graduate School of Business; co-director of Stanford’s Program on Regions of Innovation and Entrepreneurship; and a director emeritus of the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI).

No information has yet been released about a memorial or service on campus.

National security expert

Rowen, a Palo Alto resident, had wide-ranging interests, from nuclear proliferation to innovation in Asia and forms of governance. A dedicated public servant, he served as the assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs in the U.S. Department of Defense from 1989 to 1991; chairman of the National Intelligence Council from 1981 to 1983; president of the Rand Corp. from 1967 to 1972; and assistant director of the U.S. Bureau of the Budget from 1965 to 1966.

“The Hoover Institution mourns the loss of a devoted public servant and friend,” said Tom Gilligan, the director of the Hoover Institution. “It is with sadness that we reflect upon a man whose contributions to the international community made our world a better place.  Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.”

Garth Saloner, dean of the Stanford Graduate School of Business, said, “We have lost a well-loved member of our community. Henry contributed tremendously to academic and government life and we are grateful for his leadership at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. His contributions and spirit will be fondly remembered.” 

Michael H. Armacost, a fellow at FSI and a colleague of Rowen, said, “Harry was one of the great policy analysts, defense experts, public intellectuals and government servants of his generation. He is one of the reasons they are referred to as ‘the greatest generation.'”

From 2001 to 2004, Rowen served on the Secretary of Defense Policy Advisory Board.

In 2004, Rowen was appointed to the yearlong U.S. commission charged with assessing the intelligence community’s readiness to respond to a proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Asian focus

In a 1996 issue of the journal National Interest, Rowen predicted that China would become a democracy by 2015. Although the forecast was seemingly incorrect, he suggested earlier this year that the transition was still a question of  “when, not if.”

Rowen’s latest book, Greater China’s Quest for Innovation, was published in 2008. Other authored and co-authored publications include the article, “China: Big Changes Coming Soon”; and the following books: Making IT: The Rise of Asia in Information Technologies (Stanford University Press, 2007); The Silicon Valley Edge: A Habitat for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (2000); and Behind East Asian Growth: The Political and Social Foundations of Prosperity (1998), among others.

Born on Oct. 11, 1925 in Boston, Mass., Rowen earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1949 and a master’s in economics from Oxford University in 1955.

Rowen’s research papers are available at the Hoover Institution Archives.

Rowen is survived by his widow, Beverly Griffiths, three daughters, three sons, and nine grandchildren.

Contributors include Lisa Griswold of the Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, Eryn Witcher of the Hoover Institution and Page Hetzel of the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Media Contacts

Clifton B. Parker, Stanford News Service: (650) 725-0224, cbparker@stanford.edu