Widgets Magazine

Henry S. Rowen, business professor and economist, dies at 90

Henry S. Rowen, business professor and economist, died of a heart attack in his hometown of Menlo Park on Nov. 12. He was 90.

In addition to being a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution since 1983, Rowen was the Edward B. Rust Professor of Public Policy and Management emeritus, at the Graduate School of Business (GSB) and a director emeritus of the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI). Prior to his years at Stanford, Rowen had a long and influential career in policymaking, economics and national security. Rowen was also a senior fellow at the The Hoover Institution.

Rowen began his career at Rand Corporation, a nonprofit organization that studied national security. He worked as an economist there for much of the 1950s, returning to serve as the corporation’s president in 1967 after a brief stint with the U.S. Bureau of the Budget. Rowen expanded Rand’s influence into areas of domestic policy, working on education, healthcare and housing.

The publication of the Pentagon Papers in 1971, which revealed the true nature of the Department of Defense’s involvement in Vietnam, led to the end of Rowen’s leadership of Rand. According to the New York Times, Rand owned a copy of the Pentagon Papers, and under Rowen’s discretion allowed journalist Daniel Ellsberg access to them. Within the year, Rowen resigned from Rand and became part of the Stanford faculty.

Rowen returned to policymaking during the Reagan Administration. He was the chairman of the National Intelligence Council from 1981 to 1983 and later went on to serve as Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs during George H. W. Bush’s presidency. In the final decade of the Cold War, Rowen argued for the United States to withhold aid from the struggling Soviet economy in an effort to force them to open up.

In the years following the Cold War, Rowen was heavily involved in research studying Asia’s burgeoning technology sector. Through FSI, Rowen was involved in the Stanford Program on Regions of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (SPRIE), as well as the Shorenstein Center. Rowen predicted in a 1996 issue of National Interest that China would have become a democracy by this year, and although the prediction did not come true, he expressed his belief that the change was still to come. Other works he coauthored included “Making IT: The Rise of Asia in Information Technologies” in 2007 and “The Silicon Valley Edge: A Habitat for Innovation and Entrepreneurship” in 2000.

Rowen is survived by his widow Beverly Griffiths, as well as their six children and nine grandchildren.


Contact Jacob Nierenberg at jhn2017 ‘at’ stanford.edu.

About Jacob Nierenberg

Jacob Nierenberg ’17 is a senior pursuing a major in American Studies and a minor in Comparative Studies in Race & Ethnicity. Though he is a staff writer for the Student Groups beat, he enjoys contributing album reviews and music features to the Arts & Life beat. He hails from Vancouver, WA, and intends to return to the Pacific Northwest someday. His hobbies include pretending to do work, going out walking late at night (usually as an escort for 5-SURE on Foot), and talking about music with his roommate—Tyler Dunston ’18, desk editor on the Arts & Life beat.