College celebrates trailblazing professor with naming ceremony

May 1, 2019

Persis-Rockwood2.jpgA celebration marking the naming of the Persis E. Rockwood Undergraduate Programs Suite recently drew a standing-room-only turnout at the College of Business. The honoree said she was “very surprised and very pleased” at the crowd of former students and colleagues, as well as current faculty and staff members, who attended the naming ceremony and unveiling of her portrait. Rockwood taught marketing and management at the college from 1960 to 1989.

Rockwood, along with her husband, Charles Rockwood, made a $500,000 gift to name the suite in Legacy Hall, the college’s future home. The portrait with a plaque bearing her name has been hung in the Undergraduate Programs Office in the Rovetta Business Building, where it will remain until it can be relocated to a prominent position in Legacy Hall.

“We are extremely pleased to recognize Dr. Rockwood for her generosity in naming the Undergraduate Programs Suite,” said Michael Hartline, the college’s dean. “She is widely admired and respected at FSU, and it’s a real tribute to her that her former colleagues and students describe her as a humorous and thoughtful voice of reason, an example of graciousness and courage, and a trailblazer with many firsts to her credit.”

Rockwood was the first woman:

  • To earn a doctorate at Stanford University in 1960
  • To become president of the Southern Marketing Association in 1970, of which she was a founding member 
  • To be promoted to full professor of marketing in the FSU College of Business in 1973
  • To be inducted into the Charles A. Rovetta Faculty Hall of Fame in 2018 

Always a champion of diversity and equality, Rockwood chaired an FSU committee that worked to create a policy on gender equity in faculty salaries. She also was an inspiration and an advocate for many students and young faculty members during her tenure

Former student Christie Koontz who was a new Ph.D. student when she met Rockwood and now is an adjunct professor and graduate internship coordinator in the College of Communication and Information, credits Rockwood for setting her on the path to her own successful academic career.

Dennis Cradit, associate dean for Undergraduate Programs and Accreditation and the Bank of America Professor of Data Analytics, expressed his admiration for Rockwood with whom he served on the faculty for the last few years of her career.

“Dr. Rockwood was always interested in the inevitable trials and tribulations of a faculty populated by many much younger than her, but always ready to voice hard questions about our dealings with students, about our dealings with the curriculum and our dealings with each other,” Cradit said. “Throughout our shared time at the college, Dr. Rockwood set a singularly gracious and courageous example for us all. Humility and strength of conviction are traits that sum up my recollections of her.”


by Barbara Ash