Rossi, Peter Henry 1921-2006

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Rossi, Peter Henry 1921-2006


See index for CA sketch: Born December 27, 1921, in New York, NY; died of kidney and congestive heart failure, October 7, 2006, in Amherst, MA. Sociologist, educator, and author. Rossi was a leading sociologist who conducted groundbreaking studies on such issues as homelessness and education. After earning a B.S. from the City College of the City University of New York in 1943, he enlisted in the U.S. Army. He served in the 100th Infantry in Europe during World War II. Returning home, he attended Columbia University, where he completed his Ph.D. in 1951. Rossi had originally intended to pursue a career in social work, but he was lured instead into academia. He taught at Harvard in the early 1950s, and in 1955 joined the University of Chicago faculty. He would remain there until 1967, and was director of the National Opinion Research Center. During this period, Rossi built a reputation as a brilliant designer of research projects. Among these was a study of the Catholic school system that was the first of its kind, as well as studies on people's perceptions of race. His expertise in research led him to coauthor the important sociology textbook Evaluation: A Systematic Approach (1979; 7th edition, 2004). A disagreement with the university president over funding for the center led him to transfer to Johns Hopkins University. Rossi was professor of sociology there until 1974, and at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst until his retirement in 1992. Also concerned with many other issues, such as hunger and poverty, Rossi strove throughout his career to reveal accurate pictures of these problems in order to influence wiser decisions in public policy. Among his many other publications are Applied Sociology (1983), Without Shelter: Homelessness in the 1980s (1989), Evaluating Family Preservation Services (1991), and Feeding the Poor: Assessing Federal Food Aid (1998). A former president of the American Sociological Association, he was once the editor of such journals as American Sociologist and the American Sociological Review. Rossi was the recipient of the Evaluation Research Society's Murdal Award and the 1985 Commonwealth Award for his contributions to the field.



Chicago Tribune, October 11, 2006, section 2, p. 11.

New York Times, October 13, 2006, p. A23.

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Rossi, Peter Henry 1921-2006

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