Roger Lathan knew how to raise money, but more importantly, he knew how to make connections and friends at UR. UR lost its friend Lathan, 69, on April 8 after battling a long-term illness.

At his death, Lathan held the title of vice president emeritus and special assistant to the President Thomas Jackson.

“His unique ability to work so seamlessly with successive presidents, and countless administrators and faculty, suggests why he was so effective with generations of alumni who admired, respected ? and, yes, loved ? Roger,” Jackson said. “In return, he loved them, and he loved his university.”

Lathan was one of the university’s most loyal supporters, graduating in 1954 and developing alumni affairs under five of the university’s nine presidents.

The funeral was held today at 11 p.m. in Pittsford. The university will hold a memorial service for Lathan on Oct. 9 before the start of Meliora Weekend in the Palestra.

Jackson feels that Lathan’s longevity at the university showed his effectiveness and love for UR.

“We have all benefited immeasurably from his gifts and devotion,” Jackson added.

Provost Charles Phelps also thought highly of Lathan. “Roger was the heart and soul of the university,” Phelps said. “He knew more about alumni over the past half century than anyone alive. He’s the kind of guy, if you cut off his arm, bleeds blue and gold.”

Dennis O’Brien, who served as president from 1984 to 1994, feels that Lathan’s most outstanding characteristic was loyalty. “Whoever the president, whatever the school or department, no matter how difficult the times, Roger believed in the strength, goodness, and greatness of Rochester,” O’Brien said in a release.

Lathan was also a supporter of UR athletics. “While his job responsibilities were external, he remained a devoted friend of students, and particularly our athletic teams,” Jackson said.

“In fact, Roger and Joan were present at the UR men’s basketball team’s playoff victory against Williams in early March in the Palestra, and he was thrilled at being able to watch the first-ever postseason basketball game at the Palestra,” Jackson said.

Lathan played soccer as an undergraduate and was inducted into the Athletics and Recreation Hall of Fame in 2000. During the recent renovation of the Palestra, the lobby was named the Roger Lathan Lobby.

“He lived and breathed the university,” Phelps said of Lathan. “He optimized the university in many ways.”

O’Brien, among countless others, will miss Lathan. “He was a friend first, last and always,” he said.

Schnee can be reached at

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