Dr. Benjamin Rifkin, currently a professor of modern languages and literature at Ithaca College, was appointed by President Stuart Rabinowitz as the new dean of the Hofstra College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. Starting on June 15, 2017, Rifkin will take over for the current dean Dr. Bernard Firestone, who is retiring to return as a member of the political science college faculty.
“I’m looking forward to working closely with colleagues and students within the College, and throughout campus, and in the greater community to sustain, celebrate, and advance our successes, and to engage with both pride and purpose in realizing the mission and vision of Hofstra University,” Rifkin said in a press release.
Rifkin was also a former provost and vice president for educational affairs at Ithaca College. In the Ithaca student newspaper, The Ithacan, Rifkin explained his reasoning for stepping down from his administrative position, “It has been a tumultuous year, for all of us on campus … During this time of transition, I have decided that it is best for me and for the college that I resume my role as a professor and contribute to the mission of the college through my work on the faculty.”
There is no mention about what contibuted to the “tumultuous year” that Rifkin cited as his reason for stepping down.
According to Hofstra’s press release, Rifkin’s experience also includes serving as vice dean for Undergraduate Affairs at the College of Liberal Arts at Temple University, as well as a professor of Russian; department chair at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, director of the Middlebury College School of Russian summer program and a visiting professor at Princeton University.
Rifkin’s faculty profile on the Ithaca College website highlights his primary interests in research, “are in foreign language education, especially performance-based learning outcomes assessment, applied linguistics, second language acquisition, and contemporary Russian film.”
Rifkin attended the University of Michigan Ann Harbor where he received his doctorate in Slavic languages and literature, and Yale University where he received a Master of Arts and a Bachelor of Arts (magna cum laude) in Russian and East European studies.
“His experience teaching and working with students from diverse backgrounds has led him to develop a keen understanding and appreciation for their educational and personal needs related to challenges that may impact their achievement and success,” said Dr. Roger Richardson, an associate provost and interim chief diversity officer at Ithaca College, in a press release.
Rabinowitz was hopeful about the changes Rifkin will bring. “We are very pleased to welcome a scholar with a history of academic leadership and an exemplary record of scholarship and teaching,” Rabinowitz said. “Dr. Rifkin brings to Hofstra a wealth of experience, a collaborative and transparent leadership style and a dedication to the primacy of learning.”