Marketing & Communications
A quiet Drum Major for Peace
Heavily engaged in planning the last details of the upcoming Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service Challenge, Dr. Jane Rosser almost did not attend the Bowling Green Human Relations Commission's annual Martin Luther King celebration at the public library on Jan. 18.
It was a good thing she was persuaded to leave her work as director of the Office of Service-Learning that day and go, because Rosser found herself honored with the city's Drum Major for Peace Award. "I did not know I was getting it and I was very humbled by it," she later said with characteristic modesty.
The award's name comes from the "Drum Major Instinct" sermon King delivered on Feb. 4, 1968, at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, about a month before he was assassinated.
King often used the phrase "drum major instinct" to describe the impulse toward leadership, explained presenter Barbara Y. Keller, a BGSU retiree and commission member. "In his sermon he said, 'If you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice, say that I was a drum major for peace, say that I was a drum major for righteousness. And all the other shallow things will not matter. ... I just want to leave a committed life behind.'"
Keller said that in selecting Rosser, "the Human Relations Commission recognizes an individual who lives the drum major instinct as described by Dr. King."
In her determined advocacy for equality and access, Rosser is a quiet kind of drum major, working diligently to create and sustain programs that benefit people from all walks of life both at the University and in the community, and especially empowering young people to develop their own leadership skills.
A city resident for roughly 20 years, Rosser's service to Bowling Green has been significant, Keller said. "She served as chair of the One Bowling Green Campaign organized by the citizens of our community that successfully protected the Unlawful Discrimination Ordinance and the city's Fair Housing Ordinance. She has been involved in a range of community-based partnerships. Her activism interests include access and diversity issues in higher education, gender and LGBT issues, organizational change, service-learning and social change. This person has worked in international education for over 30 years in both the U.K. and the U.S."
A common thread has been her commitment to both serving the community and learning from it, directly and through self-reflection - an emphasis she has always brought to the students with whom she works.
At BGSU, her work has encompassed student affairs, the Women's Center, community partnerships, and more recently, service-learning and civic engagement. She has been an adviser to a number of student organizations, including VISION, an LGBT support group, and serves on the LGBT Advisory Board.
She teaches regularly for the Division of Higher Education and Student Affairs and is an affiliated faculty member in Women's Studies and American culture studies.
She was instrumental in bringing an AmeriCorps program to northwest Ohio, and Wood County Corps has developed into a successful civic outreach program for BGSU with members serving in 17 agencies in Wood County. Out of this partnership also came the creation of BG Teen Central, now a joint effort between the Office of Service Learning and the city's parks and recreation department.
Rosser also chairs the United Way of Greater Toledo Volunteer Center Advisory Board.
She is involved in a range of local and national grant-related activities and in work with Ohio and National Campus Compact. She has been dedicated to helping BGSU build programs that serve the needs of the community while engaging students in powerful and meaningful learning experiences - activities that were part of the University's being named to the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll in 2007.
Rosser earned a Ph.D. in higher education administration from BGSU and a certificate in women's studies. She is a graduate of the University of Sussex in political science and English and American studies, and the University of Texas at Austin in political science.
(Posted January 29, 2013 )