James Crossen, the professor who brought Addiction Studies to Pierce College in 1999 died April 2 from Pneumonia. He was 80.
Crossen was a registered nurse, documentary filmmaker, poet, anarchist and pioneer in Addiction Studies. He went to the Gaza Strip six times and created a recovery program for women in Iran, according to Allen Glass, director of Addiction Studies.
Glass said he will be best remembered for the impact he had on those he met.
“Helping people discover their true passion and voice and mind was probably his greatest achievement,” Glass said. “He did that hundreds of times.”
Crossen was a pioneer in his field, and created the Addictions Study Program Jan 15 1976 at the Medical Center of North Hollywood where he taught a class, according to Glass. He brought the program to Los Angeles Mission College in 1990 before coming to Pierce in 1999.
“Going back to the 70s, he had this influence on people that was quite rare,” Glass said. “He would change people’s lives and they would never be the same after having a class with him.”
Judy Davis, adjunct professor of addiction studies, said Crossen encompassed everything the department could have asked for.
“Students were enraptured by him and his brilliance,” Davis said. “He knew all of his students by first name. He was very supportive of their personal growth and very excited to build on their expertise and knowledge base.”
Glass said Crossen was a brilliant man with a small frame who was always dressed “dapper”, wearing belts that often matched his hats and shoes. Sometimes he would even match his car.
“As soon as you met him, he was like a whirlwind of energy,” Glass said. “Really quite brilliant and unlike anybody you had ever met.”
Greg Schafer, retired Addiction Studies professor and drug and alcohol counselor, said Crossen was an eccentric renaissance man who he considers to be his mentor. Crossen hired Schafer in 1984.
“The man put me on a beautiful course of life,” Schafer said. If it wasn’t for him I never would have been in the field I’m sure. He would be my mentor, you could say that, definitely.
Crossen was was traveled, well informed, and an advocate for social justice who lived a full life.
“When Nelson Mandela was released from prison he was right there video taping it,” Glass said.
Crossen will be remembered for regularly saying and instilling that “Everything is Everything.”
“‘Everything is Everything,’ It was a purpose and a meaning to all that life had to offer and it was ours to explore,” Davis said. “Our worlds our touched by many people and many things, to find value and meaning in everything.”
Crossen is survived by his wife, Lola LaVallee.
Crossen will be honored at the Addiction Studies graduation ceremony on May 27 at noon in the Great Hall. A memorial this summer is being planned, but has not been finalized yet.