Rev. Richard Wilfred Rousseau, S.J., (1924-2015) was a longtime theology professor at the University of Scranton, where he also served as founder and director of the Ridge Row/University of Scranton Press.
Fr. Rousseau was born September 26, 1924 in South Dartmouth, Massachusetts. He attended St. Joseph's Parish Grammar School (New Bedford, Massachusetts) and Assumption Prep (Greendale, Massachusetts) before attending the College of the Holy Cross (Worcester, Massachusetts) in 1941. After completing his sophomore year he reported to St. Stanislaus Novitiate/Shadowbrook in Lenox, Massachusetts to begin Jesuit training. He entered into the Society of Jesus on February 1, 1943.
Fr. Rousseau obtained undergraduate, graduate, and licentiate degrees in philosophy from Weston College, a constituent school of Boston College. He was ordained on August 15, 1954, and he continued his education at Boston College, earning a master of arts in English. He later earned a licentiate and a doctorate in sacred theology from St. Albert de Louvain in Belgium and St. Paul University in Ottawa, Canada. Fr. Rousseau took his final vows October 19, 1979.
Fr. Rousseau had an extensive career as an educator. He began in 1948 at Fairfield College Preparatory School, teaching history and French. From 1956 to 1960, he served as chair of the Department of Theology at Boston College. He then transferred to Fairfield University, where he taught theology and also served as chair of the University's chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). In 1972, Fr. Rousseau accepted a five year term as dean of Weston College, a Jesuit seminary in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In 1978-1979, he served as a visiting professor of theology at Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama. In 1979, Fr. Rousseau transferred to the University of Scranton, where he remained until his retirement in 2005. At the University, Fr. Rousseau taught theology. In 1981, he was elected chair of the Department of Theology and Religious Studies, a position he held for 15 years.
Fr. Rousseau's professional achievements are numerous. While teaching at Fairfield, he received a Fulbright grant to study in India and gain experience in world religion. In the early 1960s, he proposed and was involved in the establishment of the National Workshop on Christian Unity, which became the principal ecumenical meeting in the United States sponsored by Catholics. In the late 1960s, he served three years as an associate director of the Faith and Order Commission of the National Council of Churches. From 1963 to 1973, Fr. Rousseau was the co-editor of the book series Catholic Theology Today, published by Bruce Brothers. In 1988, Fr. Rousseau founded the Ridge Row Press, later known as the University of Scranton Press. He served as director for more than 20 years and also authored approximately 80 books on theology and Pennsylvania culture published by the Press. His publications also included scholarly articles on Catholic education in a variety of journals.
Fr. Rousseau had a strong interest in art, particularly acrylic painting and photography, which he began exploring as a child. He studied in the art department at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, in the Art Student League in New York City, and under Don Stone in Rockport, Massachusetts. During the 1960s he combined photography with acrylic painting on canvas, and he continues to explore digital photography. He helped develop a stronger artistic atmosphere on the University of Scranton campus, establishing a Campus Art Committee that lead to a formal Art Department, which he chaired for its first years of development. Fr. Rousseau also served for six years as president of a local Scranton group, the Artists for Art Association (AFA), successfully bringing the association back from near financial failure. He also enjoyed participating in art exhibits, defining his style as iconography of the twentieth century, and he was recognized for his talent in religious art. Four of his paintings are on display in the Reading Room of the University Archives and McHugh Special Collections; they are adaptations of the authors of the Gospels represented in the illumination style of the Book of Kells.
In the late 1960s, Fr. Rousseau's parents (Wilfrid J. Rousseau and Margaret I. Donaghy) established a trust fund for the purpose of purchasing scholarly books for the University of Scranton Weinberg Memorial Library. The trust, known as the Rev. Richard W. Rousseau, S.J., Memorial Fund, became operational after his mother's death in the late 1970s. The Rev. Richard W. Rousseau, S.J., Memorial Fund Collection focuses on signed, first editions, and a rotating selection of materials from the collection can be viewed in a glass case in the Library's Heritage Room.
After retiring from his position as Director of the University of Scranton Press in 2005, Fr. Rousseau returned to the New England Province and began publishing recorded oral histories of New England Jesuit members. A website, New England Jesuits Oral History Program, was launched to share the interviews. It features photographs, audios, and texts of over one hundred completed interviews, including an interview with Fr. Rousseau himself.