Rosemary Anastos, 97; UCLA Executive Had a Stellar Career



Copyright, 2004, Los Angeles Times. Reprinted with permission.

By Mary Rourke, Times Staff Writer
April 25, 2004

Rosemary Park Anastos, whose distinguished career in higher education included the presidencies of Barnard College and Connecticut College as well as a term as vice chancellor of UCLA, has died. She was 97.

She had been in frail health for months and died April 17 of natural causes at her home in Los Angeles, according to her niece, Nancy Seybold.

As president of Connecticut College from 1947 to 1962, and Barnard College from 1962 to 1967, Anastos — who used Park as her professional name — became nationally known for her leadership as an administrator. She planned ambitious expansion programs at both colleges and raised the funds to cover the costs.

As UCLA's vice chancellor from 1967 to 1970, she oversaw educational planning and programming in a position that had been created for her. She came to Los Angeles after marrying Milton Anastos, a professor of Byzantine Greek at UCLA. She was 58 at the time; he was 56. It was her first marriage, his second.

"Rosemary was an astute observer of higher education, with a unique skill as an analytic mind," said Helen S. Astin, a longtime friend of Anastos and associate director of the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA.

"She could be critical of higher education, which can at times be reactive, not proactive. She challenged us to take the initiative."

In lectures and speeches, Anastos emphasized the proper role of the university. In her view, it should be the influential center of intellectual life, she said in an address at Caltech in 1967. The university's job is to supply the knowledge that undergirds the country's economic and governmental systems, she said.

The job of administrators is to "try to preserve [the university's] freedom amid pressures from within and without," Anastos said. They include pressures from students, who invariably wish to "remodel" higher education, and from society, "which periodically succumbs to the temptation to make it serve not truth, but the establishment."

The daughter of educators, Anastos was born in Andover, Mass. Her father, J. Edgar Park, a German scholar, was president of Wheaton College in Norton, Mass., for almost 20 years. Her mother, Grace, taught Greek and mathematics.

Anastos had two sisters and a brother, William E. Park, who was president of Simmons College in Boston in the 1960s.

After graduating from Radcliffe College and staying on to earn a master's degree in German, Anastos obtained a doctorate at the University of Cologne, Germany, in 1929. She had a particular interest in medieval German literature.

She joined Connecticut College in New London as a German teacher in 1935 and became academic dean a few years later. From then on, she combined teaching and administrative work. As president of the college, she was instrumental in transforming what had been an all-women's school into a coeducational one.

The transition was completed several years after she left Connecticut for Barnard College, which remains a women's school. In her view, both types of colleges served a purpose.

"The matter of coeducation is primarily one of individual taste," Anastos said in an interview with Astin that was included in the book "The Higher Education of Women: Essays in Honor of Rosemary Park," compiled by friends as a tribute to her.

The purpose of a women's college is to help its students gain a clear sense of independence, Anastos said.

"I think this is particularly important for girls who develop slowly, and we all have our own personal rates of developments," she said.

"To plunge a girl, uncertain about her capacities and aspirations, into a situation of greater [intellectual] competition … and complicate that by greater competition between the sexes is unfortunate," Anastos said.

She believed that all-male colleges served a similar purpose and ought to be an option for men.

Anastos remained on the UCLA faculty as professor emeritus of education until 1974. During her career, she was given more than 20 honorary degrees from the most prestigious colleges and universities, including Yale and Columbia. She was a trustee of more than a dozen high schools and colleges. In 1967 she was named "Times Woman of the Year" by the Los Angeles Times.

Anastos' husband died in 1997. She is survived by one stepson and several nieces and nephews.

Memorial services are being planned for later this year.