Rose Institute welcomes back alumni for 50th anniversary
More than 100 alumni returned to campus recently to celebrate the Rose Institute of State and Local Government’s golden anniversary, enjoying a packed day of panel discussions, student presentations, and a forum where dozens shared fond memories of their Rose experiences.
Founded in 1973, the nationally recognized Rose Institute brings together world-renowned faculty and students to collaborate on researching, interpreting, and presenting data. The Institute specializes in demographics, elections, public opinion, and policy analysis.
Director Ken Miller, a Government professor, is proud that the Rose Institute has stayed true to its founding mission for the past five decades: to create an institute with a laser-like focus on state and local government with an emphasis on California.
“It is wonderful to share the Rose’s achievements with the many, many alums who have helped make the institute a huge success,” Miller said. “With so many alumni returning to campus, we’ve had a celebration worthy of this landmark anniversary.”
Rose alumni and students said their work at the institute shaped them as learners, listeners, and in some cases, advocates.
Jessica Jin ’16 marveled at how Open Academy principles of overcoming what divides us to solve the world’s most challenging problems were in practice even when she was a CMC and Rose Institute student.
“It’s beautiful to have a place where engagement is possible. The Rose Institute workroom was very much a place where we talked passionately about our varying political ideals in that moment…. You could look at someone and know that you disagree with them but also know you can have a civil conversation.”
Over the day-long 50th anniversary event, Rose alumni shared stories of intense political discussions, rewarding scholarly collaborations, and fluky ways that lifelong friendships were formed while working at the Rose Institute.
“Lots of interesting things happened on the academic front but more meaningful things also took place,” said Abhi Nemani ’10, former Rose student manager.
He recalled that during his sophomore year, he and a fellow Rose student were working away on Thanksgiving because they had no plans. That is until Senior Fellow Steven Frates ’69 ran into the pair in the Rose workroom.
“He comes by and says, ‘Hey, you guys should come to my house for Thanksgiving.’ I thought he was joking. We drove three hours down to his house and spent six hours with his family. It was pretty incredible.”
The alumni were treated to a student presentation on current projects, including Re-Assessing San Francisco’s Government Design, which received national recognition, and a California City Managers Survey.
The packed audience was impressed by the students’ work, prompting questions about process and content.
“This is awesome, fantastic work,” commented one Rose alumnus. “It was nice to hear and read about the San Francisco project in the news.”
Another said it’s clear that students continue to collaborate on projects just as he did when he was a student.
Miller said that 50 years ago, the Institute’s founders launched the Rose Institute after concluding that other colleges and universities were favoring the study of what happens in Washington, D.C. over the state and local level.
“California is such a large and important state that creates policies that have ripple effects beyond its borders to the rest of the country,” Miller said. “Studying California has broader implications, so the Rose brings a unique perspective.”
Before the alumni forum ended, Nemani ’10 shared one final thought — not only did he learn about California policies, politics, and initiatives at Rose, but he also developed lasting friendships. “Sorry for being corny here but what I remember is walking into the Rose office every Friday afternoon and seeing 10 to 15 people whom I loved, and who were amazing people and getting to work with them and spend time with them. That’s family, right? That's the best kind of family. I just want to say thank you for that.”
To view more photos from the Rose Institute's 50th Anniversary Celebration, please click here.