St. John’s University Remembers Jerrold Ross, Ph.D., Former Dean of The School of Education

Jerrold Ross, Ph.D.
February 1, 2024

Jerrold Ross, Ph.D., 88, passed away peacefully at Calvary Hospital on February 1, 2024. Born on February 8, 1935, in Brooklyn, NY, he was the son of Alice Gubernick Ross and Murray Ross.

Dr. Ross was many things: a dedicated educator and progressive administrator; a passionate supporter of the arts; a proud, lifelong New Yorker; and a loyal supporter of St. John’s University’s Vincentian mission. The University mourns the loss of Dr. Ross, the longest-tenured Dean of The School of Education (SOE) from 1995 until 2014, and Academic Vice President of the Staten Island, NY, campus. He retired as Dean Emeritus.

His leadership brought the School to new heights of academic accomplishment, encouraged more excellent student service, and fortified the institution as a vibrant metropolitan area educational community member. 

Dr. Ross began his career as a music teacher in the public schools of Syosset, Great Neck, and New York. He later taught music education at New York University (NYU), where he became Chairman of the Department of Music and Music Education and Head of the Division of Arts and Arts Education before becoming Associate Dean of the School of Education there.

During that period, he was also director of Town Hall, which NYU owned. For them, he created “Legendary Ladies of the Movies,” which was expanded by the Kennedy Center into the Kennedy Center Honors.

A lifelong proponent of the arts, Dr. Ross wove his love for music and culture throughout a storied career in education, always promoting the benefits of a well-rounded liberal arts education as a member of various boards, most notably the Usdan Summer Camp for the Arts in Wheatley Heights, NY. From 1967 to 2003, he was President of Usdan’s Board of Trustees and a building there was named in his honor.

Dr. Ross was proud that The School of Education created more new programs during his tenure than were introduced in its entire history before his arrival. He also pioneered diversity, equity, and inclusion, stating, “A culturally diverse faculty attracts an equally diverse student body.” He tailored many unique programs to help graduates teach students from different cultures.

Dr. Ross was also on the Board of Directors of St. John’s Bread and Life, which was founded to address the needs of individuals and families living in the Bedford Stuyvesant Brooklyn community facing multiple challenges. St. John’s Bread and Life serves 9,000 individuals weekly on average across all food programs. Dr. Ross was a member of The Lotos Club and National Arts Clubs in New York City.

Dr. Ross received the Distinguished Achievement Medal from St. John’s in 2006 and the President’s Medal in 2008. His commitment to higher education was renowned throughout the region, and the New York State Education Department and its Board of Regents presented him with a certificate commemorating his 50 years of service to the children of New York State in 2008.

When asked how he would like to be remembered, Dr. Ross said, “For being visionary; for introducing and implementing key SOE programs; and for spearheading innovative partnerships with private schools, corporations, governmental organizations, and other entities. I also hope to be remembered for being tough but fair and for helping people to do more than they believe they are capable of doing.”

Dr. Ross is survived by Robert Harrod, his partner of 51 years, beloved cat “Miss Coco”, nieces and nephews, as well as numerous friends, colleagues and former students. 

A memorial service will take place at Temple Emanu-El, Fifth Avenue at 65th Street, NYC on Monday, February 5 at 10:30 a.m. with reception to follow. In lieu of flowers, donations in honor of Dr. Ross may be sent to the Alice Murray and Jerrold Ross Scholarship Fund at St. John’s University - Office of Gift Planning - 8000 Utopia Parkway, Queens NY 11439.