IAC Dean Rosser to become SFSU provost

At the end of this summer, Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts (IAC) Dean Sue Rosser will be taking a cross-country trip all the way to San Francisco–to stay. After a ten-year tenure at Tech as dean, Rosser will be taking up the position of provost at San Francisco State University (SFSU) beginning this August.

Rosser came to Tech in 1999 as the Institute’s first female academic dean. According to provost Gary Schuster, at the time there was not a clear understanding of how the humanities and social sciences fit in with the rest of the university. The Ivan Allen College of Management, Policy, and International Affairs had been created in 1990 but was split into the independent College of Management and the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts in 1998. Rosser, IAC’s first dean, was in charge of bringing liberal arts-related studies to research and education at Tech.

“Working with faculty and administrators around Tech to form this new, interdisciplinary academic unit was a great experience,” Rosser said. “In the past decade, we have experienced enormous growth, one example being that sponsored research grew from 1 million to 6 million a year.”

In her tenure as dean, Rosser has completely revamped the Ivan Allen College, its image within the larger campus community and its relation to the City of Atlanta. Under her direction and leadership, the College implemented three new doctoral programs, three master’s programs and four bachelor’s programs.

In addition, Rosser hired 75 percent of the College’s tenure-track faculty and doubled student enrollment to make the IAC the fourth largest college at Tech. Rosser herself holds joint professorships in the School of Public Policy and the School of History, Technology, and Society, with a research focus on gender and technology.

“Rosser’s legacy is outstanding. She has been a driving force in making the Ivan Allen College an integral part of education at Tech. She has really defined the term interdisciplinary for our students, undergraduates and graduates,” said Gary Schuster, provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs.

At San Francisco State University, Rosser will be in charge of formulating all academic policies, allocating financial resources, overseeing nine colleges, the university library, and sponsored research. In addition, SFSU is among the largest campuses in the California State University system, with around 30,000 students and more than 3,500 faculty and staff.

“I am really interested in SFSU because of their focus on diversity and social responsibility. Of course, there is also a lot of overlap, especially with the Ivan Allen College in that both are very intertwined with their respective cities,” Rosser said. “SFSU is a much larger institution and it’s certainly a big job, but I do have two daughters and two little grandsons in the San Francisco Bay area, which makes it very appealing.”

Rosser is still in the process of learning about SFSU and thinking about the next best step for the university, but her initial goals are to increase bridges between different academic units and with programs in the Bay area. For right now, Rosser is still exercising her Dean duties at Tech and putting everything in order before she leaves.

“It’s a lot of packing and organizing,” she said. “I have enjoyed my time at Tech and will miss the interdisciplinary environment and sense of collegiality here, but I also look forward to an exciting future in my new position.”

The Provost’s Office has appointed Kenneth Knoespel, professor and chair of the School of Literature, Communication and Culture, as interim dean. He will take office on July 1.

“Right now we’re still in the very early phase of the search,” Schuster said. “We expect to form the search committee very soon and initiate a nationwide search for the new dean of Ivan Allen College.”