Monday, October 25, 2004
UNM's Everett Rogers Was Communications Pioneer
By Leann Holt
Journal Staff Writer
Everett M. Rogers, a pioneer in the field of communication and the former chair of the University of New Mexico's Communication and Journalism Department, died Thursday at the age of 73.
Rogers, who had battled kidney cancer for two years, died peacefully at his home after a relapse this summer caused his health to decline rapidly, said his wife, Corinne Shefner-Rogers.
"I feel like the luckiest woman in the world to have spent so much time with him," said Shefner-Rogers, who has been with Rogers for 15 years.
"He was a higher order of human being that didn't believe in negative things."
Rogers grew up on a family farm in Carroll County, Iowa. After graduating with a degree in agriculture from Iowa State University and serving for two years in the Korean War, Rogers returned to Iowa State where he earned doctoral degrees in sociology and statistics in 1957.
Rogers then embarked on a 47-year career as university professor, author, researcher and health education proponent that took him around the globe.
He is best known for developing a communication theory called "Diffusion of Innovations." The theory offers an explanation of how new ideas are incorporated into a culture.
The book he wrote on the topic in 1962 is in its fifth edition and still widely used by educators and researchers.
The theory has significantly influenced the social sciences, said Brad Hall, current journalism department chairman at UNM.
Rogers wrote 30 books and hundreds of articles. He was recently named in the Who's Who of Social Sciences Higher Education as an "influential expert" in his field.
Rogers worked on family planning communication projects in Korea, India, Indonesia and Tanzania. He conducted research on HIV/AIDS prevention in Thailand, South Africa, Kenya and Brazil.
He taught at six American universities, including Stanford University, and six universities in Europe, Latin America and the Far East.
Rogers came to UNM in 1993 as the journalism department chairman where he served until 1997. During that time, he helped develop a new doctoral program for intercultural communication.
In 2002, Rogers was selected as the university's 47th Annual Research Lecturer the highest honor UNM bestows on its faculty.
He continued to teach at UNM until fall of 2004 when he was forced to retire due to illness.
In addition to his wife, Rogers is survived by two sons, David Rogers of Salt Lake City and Everett King of Albuquerque.
A memorial service is pending. Contributions may be made to University Hospice in Roger's name. Donations may be mailed to: 1650 University NE, Suite 200, 87102. The phone number is 272-6700.