Rosemary S. J. Schraer, chancellor of UC Riverside since 1987 and an advocate for that campus's enormous growth, died Friday at Riverside Community Hospital after suffering a stroke two days before. She was 67. Her death came after she was removed from life-support systems.
Schraer's only child, David, announced her death to a gathering of more than 500 university professors, staff members and students Friday afternoon at the bell tower at the campus center. David Schraer released a balloon, meant to symbolize his mother's spirit, and told the crowd, "Her spirit is now free."
The chancellor died less than three months before she was scheduled to retire and be succeeded by Raymond L. Orbach, provost of the College of Letters and Science at UCLA. Officials said it had not been determined whether Orbach will take office sooner. Meanwhile, duties of the chancellor were delegated to UC Riverside's executive vice chancellor, Everly B. Fleischer.
A gregarious woman known for expressing her views forthrightly, Schraer came to UC Riverside in 1986 as executive vice chancellor after holding high administrative jobs at Pennsylvania State University. The next year, she and Barbara S. Uehling of UC Santa Barbara were appointed as the first women chancellors in the history of the nine-campus UC system. Schraer also held the rank of professor of biochemistry and biomedical sciences.
David P. Gardner, president of the UC system, said Schraer was "a distinguished biochemist and a superb teacher, with a remarkable record of academic, administrative and public service, and an exceptionally caring and humane person."
UC Riverside continued a resurgence while she was chancellor after a period of sharp enrollment decline and image problems during the 1970s. In the past decade, the student body nearly doubled, to 8,900, as population in the Inland Empire boomed and other UC campuses capped their enrollments.
Schraer helped develop a master plan that calls for rapid growth over the next two decades, to eventually accommodate 18,000 students on the 1,100-acre campus. The plan proposes construction of dormitories, offices and recreation facilities on land that it uses mainly for agricultural experiments. The UC Board of Regents approved that plan in 1990 but refused to grant one of Schraer's most ardent wishes--a commitment for a law or medical school at UC Riverside.
Schraer was the second chancellor at UC Riverside to die in office. Tomas Rivera, the first minority chancellor in the UC system, died of a heart attack in 1984 at age 48.
Born in New York, Schraer was educated at Syracuse University, where she earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry, a master's in zoology and a doctorate in biochemistry. Her research concentrated on the biochemical aspects of cell structure, especially cell functions in reproduction of birds. She had taught biochemistry and biophysics at Sage College, Syracuse, Harvard Medical School and Penn State.
A celebration of Schraer's life is scheduled for 11 a.m. Tuesday on at the campus mall south of the bell tower. The family has suggested that memorial donations be made to the UC Riverside Foundation. Before her death, Schraer designated that her organs be donated for transplants and that her body be cremated.
She is survived by her husband of nearly 40 years, Harald Schraer, a retired biology professor from Penn State; her son, a physician with the U.S. Public Health Service in Alaska; her sister, Lory Black of Syracuse, N.Y., and two grandchildren.