Trustee and Rossier namesake dies at 78

Trustee and Rossier School of Education namesake Barbara J. Rossier died on August 11, ending a battle with lung cancer at age 78, the university announced.

Photo courtesy of USC News

An esteemed educator and President of the Rossier Educational & Mental Health Enterprises Inc., Rossier graduated from the university with a master’s degree in educational guidance in 1962 and again in 1971 with her EdD.

A lifelong Trojan, Rossier’s involvement in the university continued well after her studies, including tenures in the USC Alumni Association Board of Governors, the USC Associates Board of Directors and the university’s Board of Trustees.

“The entire Trojan Family mourns the passing of Barbara Rossier,” President C. L. Max Nikias said in a statement. “With her extraordinary energy, unshakable integrity and abiding commitment to providing excellent educational opportunities for everyone, she was an inspiration to us all.”

Rossier, with her husband and fellow Trojan Roger Rossier, donated $20 million to the USC School of Education in September of 1998, which at the time was the largest gift ever made to an education school in the nation. Their generosity prompted the Board of Trustees to rename the school the USC Barbara J. and Roger W. Rossier School of Education.

Fifteen years later, the school ranking has risen to 17th in the nation among graduate schools of education, according to U.S. News & World Report.

“Barbara Rossier’s impact on USC Rossier is very significant, and I am so grateful for her generous commitment to the school, our students and our graduates,” Rossier Dean Karen Symms Gallagher said in a statement. “She will be missed.”

The entrepreneurial and philanthropic sprit of the Rossiers spread beyond the university. In 1980, they began a small private school for children with special needs, which eventually grew into a multi-million dollar enterprise and one of the largest special-education institutions in the state. Rossier also served as a member of the board of directors of the Orange County High School of the Arts and the Pacific Symphony Orchestra.

The memorial service will take place on August 17 at noon at Fairhaven Memorial Park and Mortuary in Santa Ana, Calif. Rossier is survived by her husband, her two sons and three grandchildren.


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