Roosevelt Calbert

Obituary of Roosevelt Calbert

Dr. Roosevelt Calbert, 86, of Reston, Virginia, passed away Thursday, June 7, at Reston Hospital surrounded by his family.

He was born on November 13, 1931, in Philadelphia, Mississippi. He was a retired physicist and education administrator for the National Science Foundation (NSF).

He graduated as Valedictorian from Cameron Street High School and Jackson State University, where he earned his B.S. degree in science. At the University of Michigan, he received his Masters in Science for Teaching and in 1971, he received his Ph.D from the University of Kansas in plasma physics.

He served as the director of the Cooperative Academic Planning (CAP) Program at the Institute for Services to Education. He helped to create curriculum change in black colleges. Then in 1975, Dr. Calbert began his 24-year career at the National Science Foundation (NSF), joining NSF's Directorate for Science and Engineering Education.

He was a senior program analyst in the Office of Planning and Resources Management, agency representative for the White House Initiative of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Section Head of Minority Programs, and Deputy Director of the Division of Human Resource Development.

Dr. Calbert's focus was to improve educational opportunities for minority students in science, engineering, and mathematics education for underrepresented students. In 1992, he became a member of the Senior Executive Service and retired as NSF’s director of the Division of Human Resource Development in the Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR) in 1999.

In addition to his work at NSF, Calbert has served on the faculty at both Alcorn State University and Alabama State University. He published more than fifty academic articles and presented at professional conferences.

Dr. Calbert received many honors:

  • including the National Science Foundation Director's Equal Opportunity Achievement Award
  • Senior Executive Service Performance Award
  • In 1986, he received a Presidential Citation Award from Jackson State University as an outstanding alumnus
  •  In 2007, he was inducted into The National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame
  • He was awarded the Foundation’s Distinguished Service Award, the agency’s highest non-monetary honor.  It represents exceptional leadership, program development or improvement, service in the public interest, or similar contributions that substantially benefit science or engineering, science or engineering education, NSF, or the general public.

Dr. Calbert lived in Reston, Virginia and is survived by his wife Thelma, four children, Debra Calbert Brown (son-in-law, Ronald Brown), Jacquelyn Calbert Smith (son-in-law, Wayne Smith), Rosalyn Calbert Groce, and Lori Ann Calbert; eight grandchildren, Qayyim Selassie (Eva), Andre Brown, Alexandra Smith, Nicholas Groce, Jacques Smith, Jeremy Smith, Brooke Groce, Kyle Groce; and three great grandchildren, Stefani Miller, Bakari Selassie and Esme Selassie; and extended family members, devoted neighbors, and friends.

Family will receive friends on Monday, June 18 from 10 am until a service at 11 am at Heritage Fellowship Church 2501 Fox Mill Rd. Reston, VA.  Repast immediately after the service at the church and before interment at Chestnut Grove Cemetery.

As a tribute to Dr. Calbert, the Calbert family request that in lieu of flowers and because of his love for helping students in higher education that you send a financial contribution in memory of Dr. Roosevelt Calbert to the Jackson State University Science Department. Please make checks payable to the JSU Development Foundation and mail to P.O. Box 17144, Jackson, MS 39217. Please write “In Memory of Dr. Roosevelt Calbert” on the memo line. May God bless you abundantly for your gift in memory of our beloved Dr. Calbert. - The Family.