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American Sociological Association: Peter H. Rossi Award Statement
Peter H. Rossi earned his PhD in sociology in 1951 from Columbia University under the wing of Paul Lazarsfeld. He was a stand-out student in the midst of many outstanding graduate students. After completing his doctorate, he went to Harvard University for a four-year stint as a Research Associate and Assistant Professor. In 1955 he moved to the University of Chicago’s Department of Sociology where he stayed for 12 years. While at Chicago he was Director of the National Opinion Research Center form 1960 to 1967, the youngest director in the history of the Center. After leaving Chicago, he assumed the chair of the Department of Social Relations at Johns Hopkins University where he also served as Director of Research of the Social and Demographic Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts. Currently, Dr. Rossi is Director of Evaluation Design and Analysis, Professor Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, and Director Emeritus at the Social and Demographic Research Institute.
It is a daunting challenge to chart all of Dr. Rossi’s contributions to the profession—there are many of them and they extend in many directions. Among them are his committed service on behalf of the discipline and the ASA. From 1968 to 1971 he filled the post of Secretary of the ASA and later chaired ASA Committee on Freedom of Research and Training. From 1978 to 1979 he was President-Elect and from 1979 to 1980 President of the American Sociological Association. He also has managed to accumulate an extensive history as Editor and Associate Editor of a number of leading sociological journals and other serial publications.
Most notably, Peter Rossi has applied his sociological expertise to policy-making and funding agencies outside of academia where he has been highly influential. Frequently, he has been called upon by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences to participate in various investigative activities. A sample of these include the Committee on Federal Evaluation Research, the Committee on Hearing, Bioacoustics, and Biomechanics, the Committee on Socio-Economic Effects of Earthquake Prediction, the Committee on measurement of Energy Consumption, the Committee on International Disaster Assistance, the Committee on Program Evaluation and Education, and the Committee on Behavioral Sciences. He also has been a consultant and reviewer for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the National Science Foundation, and the National Institutes of Health.
Dr. Rossi has done more than plant the seeds of his sociological knowledge in policy-making bodies; he has taken what he has learned from these rich experiences back to sociology by treating the practical problems facing the society as part of mainstream sociology. This is repeatedly reflected in his writings, which number well over 200 books, book chapters and journal articles. From the pages of his extensive scholarly contributions emerges an image of a person of enormous intellectual energy who truly know how to practice sociology.