Dr. Richard L. Rowan, professor emeritus of management at the Wharton School, died of Parkinson’s disease on March 1, 2008; he was 76.
For more than 30 years, Dr. Rowan served as a faculty member in the School’s department of industry, now known as the department of management. He joined the faculty at the Wharton School in 1961. Over the course of his career, Dr. Rowan was a renowned scholar on labor relations, and in particular on the rights of disadvantaged employees.
In the early 1970s, he and his colleague, Dr. Herbert R. Northrup, co-directed the School’s Industrial Research Unit (IRU), which was established in 1921 as the world’s first business school research center. Under the leadership of Drs. Rowan and Northrup, the IRU implemented the Multinational Research Advisory Group, completed several important book series, and helped to reinvigorate the IRU as an active, vital organization—all of which generated significant impact on the academic and business communities. In 1988, Dr. Rowan became director of the IRU, which was renamed the Center for Human Resources. Several of Dr. Rowan’s many accomplishments at the Center included providing advisory services and a newsletter to industry members, which helped to bolster the Center’s funding and level of prominence.
In the 1980s and 1990s, he chaired Wharton’s Labor Relations Council, now the Council on Employee Relations. Dr. Rowan authored, co-authored and edited numerous articles and books. As an authority on labor issues, he was frequently sought after by the news media. Dr. Rowan retired from Wharton in 1997.
A native of Birmingham, Alabama, Dr. Rowan earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Birmingham-Southern College in 1953. He earned a doctorate in economics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1961.
Dr. Rowan is survived by his wife, Marilyn Walker; son, John; daughter, Jennifer Ennerberg; a brother; two sisters; and two grandchildren.
Memorial donations may be made to the Trinity Episcopal Church, 301 N. Chester Road, Swarthmore, PA 19081.