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Alumni Spotlight: Adam Rose (BA '70)

Adam RoseAdam Rose (BA ‘70) recalls with gratitude the University of Utah economics professors who inspired him in the late 1960s to pursue a “life of the mind.”

In their honor, and with appreciation to many Salt Lakers who embraced his WWII refugee family when they immigrated in 1951, Adam recently established the Adam Rose Family Scholarship for Refugee Students in the university’s Department of Economics.

“As a refugee myself, I understand both the difficulties and opportunities for those with this status. I also wanted to honor the faculty of the economics department who inspired me to become a scholar and pursue an academic career,” said Adam.

That Adam was born at all, much less can look back on a successful 50-year career in academia, is a small miracle. He was one of about 2,000 children born postwar in the Bergen-Belsen Displaced Persons Camp. From Krakow, Poland, his parents Isaac and Eugenia Rose survived Auschwitz, among other concentration camps, and reunited in Bergen-Belsen in 1945. They were among the very few members of their families to survive the Holocaust.

The Rose Family

Jewish displaced persons at the Bergen-Belsen camp, 1945-50
(U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Herbert Steinhouse)

When Adam was just shy of four, the Rose family, eager to leave Europe, came to Salt Lake. “Lacking financial resources, we were fortunate to have the Jewish community in Salt Lake sponsor us,” explained Adam. He remembers an idyllic childhood and teen years, full of close friends, supportive teachers, and caring adults.

His parents became highly-respected community members; his father as a trusted accountant on the staff of the Salt Lake Stock Exchange, and his mother as a super-saleswoman for two prominent local department stores.


After graduating from the U, Adam went on to complete his Ph.D. in economics at Cornell University. Today, he is a research professor in the University of Southern California Sol Price School of Public Policy, and Director Emeritus and Senior Research Fellow of USC’s Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Threats and Emergencies (CREATE).

“Adam Rose has produced an immense body of work focusing on the economic consequences of societal shocks and disasters, including war, environmental crises, and acts of terrorism. He is especially interested in how individuals and communities respond. He has remained remarkably prolific throughout a long career, and his research continues to be very extensively cited,” explains Department of Economics Chair Thomas Maloney.

“It's gratifying to know that Adam’s time in our department contributed to his developing the skills and interests that have enabled him to make such important contributions,” said Tom.

Throughout his life, Adam returned to Salt Lake to visit his parents until their deaths and to stay connected to his many friends. He retains a deep affection for the community that embraced him and his family at a pivotal time.

His generous gift testifies to that appreciation. His time at the U shaped his life trajectory by giving him a well-rounded education and introducing him to economics as a lifelong pursuit.

Economics faculty - including Lawrence Nabers, Bob Edminister, and Ernie Randa, Ed Bradley, Stephen Seninger, Jim Gander, Jim Rock - fostered his intellectual development. Adam – whose nickname was “Harry” during his Salt Lake City years – learned not only in the classroom. He attended long lunches and other sessions in which faculty discussed economics very broadly, including delving into philosophy and politics.

The Rose Family

The Rose Family, 2018

Adam values that the U's economics department "has always been a beacon of various heterodox approaches to economics, which is valuable in and of itself, but also with regard to challenging established orthodoxies and promoting dialogues."

And generations of refugee recipients of the Adam Rose Family Scholarship will be thankful for his investment in their future.

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Last Updated: 12/13/23