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David P. Roselle

David Paul Roselle
(1939- ), 1987-1989

By Frank Stanger

David Paul Roselle


David Paul Roselle, ninth president of the University of Kentucky, was born on May 30, 1939, in Vandergrift, Pennsylvania. A baccalaureate graduate of West Chester State College in 1961, he received his Ph.D. in Mathematics from Duke University in 1965. In 1967 he married Louise Helen Dowling of Manhasset, New York; children Arthur and Cynthia were born in 1970 and 1972, respectively.

On the faculties of Mathematics, successively at the University of Maryland (1965-68) and Louisiana State University (1968-73), he became professor in that field at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in 1974. While there he chaired the Commission on Graduate Studies, the Commission on Research, and the Commission on Undergraduate Studies and received the school's prestigious Teaching Excellence Certificate in 1978. A recognized specialist in the area of Eulerian mathematical functions, Roselle held a variety of leadership positions in national scholarly mathematics organizations, serving as Secretary of the Mathematical Association of America from 1975 to 1984. A frequent invited scholarly speaker and lecturer, he authored or edited scores of research articles and full-length works in his field of study. Appointed Dean of the Graduate School in 1979 and Dean of Research and Graduate Studies in 1981, he was named Provost of the institution in 1983. At Virginia Tech Roselle implemented a university-wide core curriculum, helped secure increased support for sponsored research, and was recognized nationally for his initiatives in computing and information systems.

In March , 1987, Roselle was named President of the University of Kentucky, and he assumed that position on July 1 of that year. His announced goal was to achieve national recognition for the University with respect to the quality of its graduates and its scholarship and research. At Kentucky he quickly became acquainted with the University's supporting constituency of alumni and friends, by traveling and speaking extensively throughout the state. Consistent with his belief that the then new computation and communications technology was of paramount importance to academic institutions, he helped design and implement a strategy for providing wider access to information technology on the UK campus. A new position-that of Vice President for Information Systems-was created to oversee the Computing Center, all data administration issues, communications, print shops, and the library. As a result of his efforts, computing and communications came to play an increasingly important role in the management of the University's academic and service programs. UK in fact was one of a small number of universities in the country at the time to have acquired a supercomputer operating directionally in a variety of areas of campus life and activity.

Much of Roselle's time and attention at Kentucky was devoted to responding to official National Collegiate Athletics Association allegations of misconduct on the part of the basketball program, in the area of recruiting, and he was widely praised for his handling of the scandal, which erupted in 1988. It is generally believed that his thoroughness and impartiality in conducting the official University investigation of the matter, his forthrightness in replying to questions posed by the official Athletics Association inquiries, and his decisiveness in acting to right the situation in the basketball program, including his dismissal of the Coach and Athletics Director at the time, resulted in an amelioration of the consequent penalty imposed on the program by the NCAA.

Amid concern regarding the state legislature's support for the university and in the aftermath of the athletics scandal, in December of 1989 Roselle accepted an offer to become President of the University of Delaware for a term of office to begin May 1, 1990. On December 28, 1989 he was succeeded at the University of Kentucky by Interim President Charles T. Wethington. After seventeen years of service at the University of Delaware, President Roselle retired on May 1, 2007.

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