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Rosemary Park, past president of Connecticut College and Barnard, dies at 97

April 21, 2004
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Rosemary Park, 1907-2004, President of Connecticut College from 1947 to 1962. <I>(1956 Photo by Robert L. Perry)</I>

Rosemary Park, 1907-2004, President of Connecticut College from 1947 to 1962. (1956 Photo by Robert L. Perry)

Rosemary Park Anastos, president emeritus of Connecticut College, former president of Barnard College and former vice chancellor at the University of California-Los Angeles, died Saturday, April 17 at her home in Los Angeles. She was 97.

A scholar of medieval German literature, Anastos is remembered as a gifted academic and administrator who played a key role in the evolution of American higher education. "She was one of the most astute observers of higher education," said Helen S. Astin, associate director of the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA. "And she understood how higher education needed to be responsive to public pressures."

During her 15-year tenure as president of Connecticut College, from 1947 to 1962, Anastos oversaw the completion of numerous campus buildings, including the College Center at Crozier-Williams, laid the groundwork for the college´s 1969 transition to co-education, and helped bring the American Dance Festival to campus.

Anastos, known professionally as Rosemary Park, was born in Andover, Mass. Her father, the Rev. J. Edgar Park, was president of Wheaton College in Norton, Mass., her brother, William E. Park, was president of Simmons College in Boston.

She earned a bachelor´s degree in German from Radcliffe College and her Ph.D. from the University of Cologne. She joined Connecticut College in 1935 as an instructor in German and served as academic dean before being tapped as president in 1946. When Anastos left in 1962 to become president of Barnard, she had just completed the Connecticut College´s first real capital campaign - a $3.1 million effort that celebrated the college´s 50th anniversary.

June Macklin, Rosemary Park Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at Connecticut College, remembers Anastos as an excellent speaker who could unify the campus, and who built a tight-knit learning community. "She knew everything that was going on at all levels of the college," Macklin said. "During her presidency the college was truly a family and a community."

In 1967, Park was appointed vice chancellor at UCLA and retired from the university as professor emeritus of education in 1974. She remained active in higher education throughout her retirement. In 1976-1977, she traveled the country as a Phi Beta Kappa lecturer, speaking on educational administration, the position of women in the university, the future of the liberal arts and the history of education. In 1980, she co-founded the Plato Society of UCLA, and participated in the organization´s weekly discussions until shortly before her death.

A world traveler, Anastos immersed herself in other cultures as often as she could. "Everything depends on our capacity to create a race of responsible adventurers," Anastos said in a 1962 interview with The New York Post Weekend Magazine.

Anastos was the author of three books and numerous articles and served during her retirement years as a contributing editor to Change magazine, a bi-monthly publication of the American Association for Higher Education. She received honorary degrees from 25 institutions, including Yale University, Columbia University and New York University.

The first woman to serve on the University of Notre Dame Board of Trustees, Anastos advised Notre Dame on becoming a coeducational institution. The Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, former president of Notre Dame, said that Anastos was one of the most visible leaders in higher education, and especially in higher education for women. "If you listed the 10 best women you met in your life, she´d be one of them," Hesburgh said.

Anastos was married to Milton V. Anastos, an internationally known scholar of Byzantine history and professor emeritus of history and Byzantine Greek at UCLA. He died in 1997.

Connecticut College is a highly selective residential liberal arts college in New London, Conn., with a student body of 1,850 men and women.

Visit the Rosemary Park website.

-- CC --