It takes a special kind of person to teach at Amherst—a distinguished scholar, a dedicated teacher, a proponent of the liberal arts, and, in the case of Stanley Rabinowitz, the ability to memorize the names of all his students on the first day of class.
Stanley Rabinowitz, the Henry Steele Commager Professor of Russian, will retire at the end of the Fall 2018 semester. Last April, the Amherst community gathered to celebrate the establishment of the Stanley Rabinowitz Distinguished Teaching Professorship, a permanently endowed fund at Amherst College made possible through a generous gift made by an anonymous graduate.
“I am thrilled to be honored by such a thoughtful gift that values so highly the centrality of teaching to the overall Amherst experience,” said Rabinowitz. “As our catalogue’s opening statement proclaims, advancing knowledge in the unique atmosphere of a liberal arts community by means of dedicated, committed instruction defines what the College strives continually to accomplish.”
Much like Rabinowitz himself, the professorship is one of a kind. The idea and inspiration behind the Stanley Rabinowitz Distinguished Teaching Professorship was to create an opportunity for outstanding professors to continue teaching Amherst students even as they begin to shift the balance of their time toward retirement. With many Amherst professors having recently retired, and more planning to in the coming years, the College will be seeking new hires for more than a quarter of the faculty over the next ten years. During this transition period and long afterwards, the professorship will help to sustain continuity of instruction and exceptional teaching. Moreover, Amherst students will be able to remain connected to—and benefit from—their most beloved professors.
Through the Stanley Rabinowitz Distinguished Teaching Professorship, retired faculty will return to the Amherst classroom to teach a course or two per year for two to four years. The course can be one of their well-known classes or a newly designed option.
Rabinowitz came to Amherst in 1973. For 45 years, he has been a fixture at the College known for his wit, warmth, and a laugh that is easy to identify in a crowd. His enthusiasm for Russian culture has informed the insightful books he’s written on Russian literature and the Russian ballet. He was also integral to the establishment of the Amherst Center for Russian Culture, which houses what is considered one of America’s finest collections of 20th-century Russian rare books, periodicals, and archives. But most notable is the impact Rabinowitz has had on generations of students through a deliberate ethic of care towards students’ academic development—and never forgetting a name.
The first recipient of the Stanley Rabinowitz Distinguished Teaching Professorship will be named in 2019.
In regards to what the gift means to Amherst, Rabinowitz said, “That a generous graduate has facilitated the continued service of faculty who want to participate further in advancing Amherst’s core mission beyond their formal retirement speaks to the abiding loyalty, love, and concern among the remarkable undergraduates who have passed through our doors.”
“This generous gift is creating a wonderful opportunity for Amherst,” says Dean of the Faculty Catherine Epstein. “With this professorship, we are able to strengthen connections between retiring and new faculty, offer students classes with acclaimed professors, and celebrate Amherst’s tradition of teaching.”
Gifts like the Stanley Rabinowitz Distinguished Teaching Professorship are propelling the Promise campaign forward in its goals to meet the needs of Amherst students both today and long into the future. Amherst launched Promise: The Campaign for Amherst’s Third Century, a five-year, $625 million comprehensive campaign, to preserve Amherst’s longstanding strengths while supporting our ambitions to innovate in our instructional and curricular practices. The campaign will ensure that the College has the students, faculty, facilities, and resources to extend its leadership into the future.