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Spring-Summer 2002
Vol. 64, No. 3

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Roger Lathan, one of the University's most loyal alumni and the chief steward of its development and alumni affairs operations for many years, died April 8 after a long illness. He was 69.

A 1954 graduate of the University, Lathan served under five of the University's nine presidents and was significantly involved in three of its major fund-raising campaigns.

"Roger was a great vice president and a true friend-and I know that this is a sentiment that is shared by my predecessors as well," President Jackson said. "His unique ability to work so seamlessly with successive presidents, and countless administrators and faculty, suggests why he was also so effective with generations of alumni who admired, respected-and, yes, loved-Roger. In return, he loved them, and he loved his University. We have all benefited immeasurably from his gifts and his devotion."

"Not only did Roger serve the University for 42 years, but to countless alumni and friends he was the University," said Robert L. Sproull, president of the University from 1975 to 1984. "He had a consummate effectiveness in helping generous donors make educational programs flourish."

"Roger Lathan's most outstanding characteristic was loyalty," said Dennis O'Brien, president from 1984 to 1994. "Whoever the president, whatever the school or department, no matter how difficult the times, Roger believed in the strength, goodness, and greatness of Rochester.

"Presidents are supposed to inspire the community; Roger inspired presidents with his affection for his alma mater."

A Rochester native, Lathan served in the U.S. Army from 1954 to 1956 and then joined the Home Life Insurance Company of New York as a field underwriter. He was named assistant director of the University of Rochester Fund in 1960, becoming associate director of the Office of University Development in 1963 and director of that office in 1966.

In 1975, he served as campaign director for the $102 million Campaign for Rochester. He was promoted to assistant vice president for University
relations in 1979, and to vice president for University relations in 1981.

He became vice president and general secretary in 1987, with responsibility for trustee relations and assisting the president, playing a crucial supporting role in the $375 million Campaign for the '90s.

Since 1997, Lathan had held the title of vice president emeritus and special assistant to the president and was also honorary life trustee.

A soccer player as an undergraduate - as well as a lifelong, dyed-in-the-wool Yellowjackets booster - Lathan was inducted in 2000 into the Athletics and Recreation Hall of Fame, along with his daughter Susan '85, '88 (MS), also a soccer player. During the recent renovation of the Robert B. Goergen Athletic Center, the Alexander Palestra lobby was named in his honor.

In January, the Board of Trustees established an endowed scholarship fund for undergraduates in honor of Lathan and his wife, Joan.

Although no longer working full time, he continued to go to his office at Wallis Hall and to make phone calls and visits on behalf of the University until shortly before his death.

He is survived by his wife, Joan McCormack Lathan, and five children-Michael and wife, Mandy; John; Mary McGuire and husband, Kevin; Susan; and Maureen - as well as five grandchildren.

A University memorial service and a ceremony to dedicate the Lathan Lobby will be held Wednesday, October 9, at the Goergen Center.

Contributions in his memory may be made to The Discovery Fund of the James P. Wilmot Cancer Center and to the Roger and Joan Lathan Scholarship Fund-both c/o the Gift Office, Box 270032, University of Rochester, 30 Wallis Hall, Rochester, NY 14627-0032-and to the Rochester Rotary Charitable Trust, 125 E. Main Street, Rochester, NY 14604.

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