A retired health teacher from the Batavia (N.Y.) School District, Rosa LaSorte Rich of Brockport, N.Y., was nominated by Richard Boardman, a 1963 SUNY Brockport graduate who met her in 1959 as one of his class advisors and has since followed with admiration her professional and volunteer career.
“I can’t come up with one special act or accomplishment, because there are many, but the success of each was the result of the accumulation of the smaller, day-to-day positive contributions she makes, which are necessary to make individuals and society better,” Boardman wrote in his nomination letter.
She left SUNY Brockport in 1964 to start the first health and physical education program for women at the American University in Beirut, Lebanon, he noted.
LaSorte Rich related about the experience: “The Near East College Association in New York City contacted me and asked if I would take on this position with the understanding that within the first year I would establish a program even though I had no budget, facilities or equipment. Using my organizational skills and creativity, I established a viable program for all freshmen women students that was in place by the end of the first academic year. With patience and understanding, I was able to face the challenges and frustrations that would come with a position in a country with diversified customs and a university with students from 59 different nations and 24 separate religions.”
She spent four years there, instituting the first full year overseas student teaching program with SUNY Brockport for the 1965-66 and 1966-67 academic years.
“For two years, I not only supervised the student teachers, but taught them the physical education activities they would be missing at Brockport,” LaSorte Rich said. “They were thus able to fulfill their requirements for internship and at the same time lighten my teaching overload.”
On June 5, 1967, when the Arab/Israeli conflict that became known as the Six Day War began between Arabs and Israelis, LaSorte Rich was one of seven university faculty members, and the lone woman, who organized the successful evacuation of 5,000 Americans from Lebanon in 24 hours. After the war and while still working for American University, she created the position of dean of women at International College in Beirut and served as acting dean of women from 1967-68.
LaSorte Rich, an assistant professor of health and physical education at Brockport from 1958-64, has remained active with SUNY Brockport alumni and contributed a sizeable gift to the Class of 1963’s endowment scholarship at Brockport. She was honored during the college’s 2006 Homecoming with the Alumni Association’s Citation of Appreciation and during SUNY Brockport’s 1998 Alumni Reunion Weekend with the Outstanding Service Award.
A native of Endicott, N.Y., LaSorte Rich earned her bachelors degree in health, physical education and recreation. She earned a Master of Education from University of Buffalo in 1956. During her long career, she taught health and physical education at University of Buffalo, Troy High School in Ottawa, Canada, and SUNY Brockport and was assistant to the dean of students at St. Francis College in Pennsylvania.
From 1973-89, LaSorte Rich taught health at Batavia Middle School. She also directed the Diners/Fugazy Travel School in New York City and served as a travel agent there in the late 1960s-early 1970s.
As a SUNY Cortland alumna, she helped her class organize to celebrate its 50th reunion in 2005. After she wrote the 2005 book related to her work in Lebanon, Crossing Boundaries: Beirut and Beyond, LaSorte Rich has donated proceeds from Cortland book sales to the Class of 1955 Alumni House Fund.
She is married to George Rich.