Hugh Rosen, 82, Drexel professor emeritus

Posted: April 25, 2013

Hugh Rosen, 82, of Center City, professor emeritus and former chairman of the mental-health services department at Drexel University, died Monday, April 15, of complications of cancer at Holy Redeemer Hospital Hospice.

Dr. Rosen, a social worker and psychotherapist, taught courses in cognitive development for many years at Hahnemann University.

"His intelligence was apparent, but he didn't hold it over you," said Kevin Kuehlwein, a friend and collaborator. "He was very encouraging. He encouraged people to write."

Dr. Rosen, whose expertise was in human development, wrote six books on cognitive development and psychology.

At 74, he wrote Silent Battlefields: A Novel, set in the late 1930s amid the Holocaust in Germany.

Dr. Rosen was born Feb. 11, 1931, in Philadelphia, the son of Ed and Claire Rosen. After graduating from Overbrook High School, he worked briefly before joining the Army, where he was stationed in Japan.

He received a bachelor's degree in English in the 1950s at St. Joseph's University. He earned a master's degree in social work in the 1960s at the University of Pennsylvania and, later, a doctorate in social work at Columbia University.

He worked briefly for Jewish Family Services and then at Hahnemann University, now part of Drexel University.

Dr. Rosen "was an inspiration to so many students who went on to be successful," said his sister, Susan Warner.

In a eulogy, Kuehlwein said Dr. Rosen, whom he described as an "academic Johnny Appleseed," was an average high school student.

During his time in the Army, Dr. Rosen became interested in higher education by meeting "fascinating people" who had gone to college. When he returned from the Army, he enrolled at St. Joseph's and "flourished under the rigor," Kuehlwein said.

Dr. Rosen "read constantly" and never stopped learning, his friend said.

When he retired at age 69, Dr. Rosen wanted to write a novel, so at 72, he earned a master's degree in creative writing at Temple University. Shortly afterward, he wrote Silent Battlefields. He started a second novel at 79.

Kuehlwein described Dr. Rosen, who was openly gay, as a "quiet presence" who was happiest in smaller groups and talking with people individually.

"He was the kind of man that, when you were talking with him, he was fully involved with you," Kuehlwein said, "and very caring."

Dr. Rosen was a man of interesting contrasts, Kuehlwein said.

He noted that Dr. Rosen, in his 70s and who had never had pets, was given two kittens, Bandit and the Kid, and raised them with care.

Shortly before Dr. Rosen retired, Kuehlwein recalled, he said he never wanted to teach again. A few months later, he started teaching English as a second language.

In addition to his sister, Dr. Rosen is survived by a brother, Roy, and nieces and nephews.

Services were Tuesday, April 16.

Contact Vernon Clark at 215-854-5717 or

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