Transitions: 12 Brandeis faculty to retire in June

Louis Brandeis statue in summer with flowers in foreground

Twelve Brandeis faculty members are retiring in June. Collectively, they've logged tens of thousands of hours teaching, mentoring and researching. They’ve published hundreds of academic papers, chapters and books. Throughout their storied careers, they’ve contributed immeasurably to academic excellence at Brandeis. BrandeisNOW celebrates their accomplishments in their fields, and their contributions to generations of students and the life of the university:

Alan Berger, associate professor of philosophy

Arrived at Brandeis: 1981

Berger's expertise is philosophy of language, metaphysics, philosophy of mathematics, philosophical logic, contemporary 20th-century analytic philosophy and philosophy of science. He wrote "Quine: From a Critical Point of View" and "Terms and Truth: Reference Direct and Anaphoric." He was a visiting professor at Harvard University in the philosophy department in 2011 and the founding director and professor at the Saul Kripke Center at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York from 2007-2009.

Mary Baine Campbell, professor of English

Arrived at Brandeis: 1988

Career highlight: Book awards including the Barnard Women Poets Prize, the Modern Language Association's James Russell Lowell Prize, and the Susanne M. Glasscock Humanities Book Prize for Interdisciplinary Scholarship.

Campbell has long been devoted to the arts at Brandeis. She developed the creative writing program and ran it for seven years. She persuaded the university to authorize “credit/no credit” grades in arts courses in which teacher feedback was more important. She is also an award-winning poet and plans to spend much of her retirement picking up the writing career she put on the back burner in recent years. "I'm retiring early to give me time for the poetry," she says. "That's too deep a part of life to abandon."

Jacob Cohen, associate professor of American studies

Arrived at Brandeis: 1960

Career highlight: Started the Myra Kraft Transitional Year Program (TYP), which is targeted toward students who have developed the skills for college success by practicing leadership in their life experiences. The program has been emulated by many other institutions, but "we were in the forefront," Cohen says.

"My career has been the highlight and defining mission of my life," Cohen says. "I love my teaching." Having joined the faculty more than 50 years ago, he's probably taught more students than any professor in Brandeis history. In the 1980s, Cohen was a faculty leader in the effort to persuade the university to divest its holdings in South Africa. He is writing a history/personal memoir about Brandeis and its evolving relationship with Judaism.  

Peter Conrad, Harry Coplan Professor of Social Sciences

Arrived at Brandeis: 1979

Career highlights: Publishing 10 books and more than 100 articles and chapters; receiving professional awards including the Leo G. Reeder Award from the American Sociological Association for “distinguished contributions to medical sociology.” Receiving endowed chair.

Conrad has held several major leadership positions, including chairing the sociology department for nine years. He also helped found the Health: Science, Society and Policy program, serving as chair for 10 years. "The program has succeeded beyond anyone’s expectations," he says. Conrad's research subjects include the sociology of health and illness, deviance, public discourse concerning the new genetics, and the sociology of ADHD. Conrad is best known for his pioneering research on the medicalization of society. "If I have succeeded in making a contribution and having a rewarding career, it is because I have worked together with a range of people I see as academic villagers who have helped make my work and professional life rich, productive and satisfying," Conrad said in remarks at a ceremony marking his retirement.

David Hackett Fischer, University Professor and Earl Warren Professor of History

Arrived at Brandeis: 1962

Over a storied career that spanned 55 years, all at Brandeis, Fischer authored multiple seminal books about American history, including “Champlain’s Dream,” “Albion’s Seed,” “Liberty and Freedom” and “Fairness and Freedom.” In 2005, he won the Pulitzer Prize for "Washington's Crossing." In 2015, he received the Pritzker Military Museum & Library Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement in Military Writing.

In a Brandeis Magazine article marking Hackett Fischer’s 50th year at Brandeis, historian Steven Whitfield (who retired at the end of 2016) wrote, “Such is David’s reputation among American historians that, when he joined a search committee to hire an environmental historian in American studies, one of the final candidates, who confided in me that he did not expect to get the job, went through the process, flying across the continent and back, so that he could tell his colleagues back home he had met David Hackett Fischer.”

Hackett Fisher was honored during Commencement at the Fellow's Breakfast, at which he gave a talk about Brandeis' history.

Dian Fox, professor of Hispanic studies, and women's, gender and sexuality studies

Arrived at Brandeis: 1987

Fox authored several books, including "Calderón: The Physician of his Honour,” “El Medico de su Honra," and "Refiguring the Hero: From Peasant to Noble in Lope de Vega and Calderón." In 2009, she delivered the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Distinguished Faculty Lecture at Brandeis. She recently completed the book, “Hercules And The King Of Portugal: Icons Of Masculinity And Nation In Calderón's Spain.”

Allan Keiler, professor of music

Arrived at Brandeis: 1975

Keiler's research focused on theory and analysis and the history of theory and 19th century musicology, especially Franz Liszt. He is the author of “Marian Anderson: A Singer's Journey,” “A Phonological Study of the Indo-European Laryngeals,” and “A Reader in Historical and Comparative Linguistics.” In 2014, he delivered the Julius Silberger Award for Interdisciplinary Work in Psychoanalysis Lecture. In 2010, he was awarded the Dean of Arts and Sciences Mentoring Award.

Walter Leutz, PhD'81, professor, the Heller School for Social Policy and Management

Arrived at Brandeis: 1989

Career highlight: Working as Heller’s associate dean for academic personnel, 2012-2014

One of the things Leutz has enjoyed most about working at Heller is the collegiality among the staff. "People have their silos, but then there's a lot of collaboration across those units," he says. Being the associate dean for academic personnel allowed him to get to know most of the faculty. "It's a bunch of great people, top to bottom," he says. Leutz will continue working on healthy aging research in Waltham.

Richard J. Parmentier, professor of anthropology

Year arrived at Brandeis: 1989

Career highlight: Founding editor-in-chief, Signs and Society (University of Chicago Press)

Parmentier's research subjects have included comparative semiotic analysis of verbal art and material culture in three sites: megaliths on the Micronesian island of Palau (Belau); art and architecture in the European High Middle Ages; and advertising images in contemporary mass media. In 1997, he received the Mouton d'Or prize for best publication in Semiotica.

Shulamit Reinharz PhD’77, Jacob Potofsky Professor of Sociology; Founding Director, Women's Studies Research Center; Founding Director, Hadassah-Brandeis Institute

Arrived at Brandeis: 1982

Career highlights: "My leadership of the women's studies program (as it was then called) in the 1990s, including bringing Anita Hill to campus as a visiting professor of women's studies, from which position she became later a University Professor. There are dozens of career highlights in that decade with the WSP."

Reinharz’s accomplishments include creating and developing 10 different graduate-degree programs, the Student-Scholar Partnership Program, the Women's Studies Research Center, and the Kniznick Gallery. "What is unique is the openness of the administration to let faculty be creative," she says. "That certainly has characterized my career here." She also heaps praise on the students. "They're just marvelous," she says. The reason so many of them double and triple major? "They want to eat it all up."

David Roberts, William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Astrophysics

Arrived at Brandeis: 1980

Career highlight: “Working with so many wonderful and talented undergraduate and graduate students.”

What will Roberts miss the most? The students. “They’re stronger than they have ever been,” he says. "They bring a lot of energy to everything they do." Roberts says Brandeis offers unusual opportunities for undergraduates to work in science labs. "Many do research that's published in scientific journals," he says. Roberts plans to continue working on a large radio astronomy project in collaboration with scientists in India.

Ilan Troen ’63, Karl, Harry and Helen Stoll Professor of Israel Studies

Arrived at Brandeis: 2002

Career highlight: Pioneering the field of Israel Studies

Troen spent the first part of his career in Israel, but returned to Brandeis to spearhead the development of an Israel Studies program. The field was still in its infancy in this country. In 2007, he helped found and then became the director of the The Schusterman Center for Israel Studies. He also developed the Summer Institute for Israel Studies, which gathers academics from around the globe to help them design courses in Israel Studies for their home universities. Troen says over 300 professors have participated in the summer program. Troen is also the founding editor of Israel Studies, a series of publications from the Indiana University Press. Troen says he’s always encouraged the study of Israel “not with collaboration nor with abject criticism, but as one would study other societies with all their complexities and contradictions.” Today, he says, Brandeis is “the outstanding place for Israel studies outside of Israel.”

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