Harpur College Pays Tribute To Saul Levin | Harpur College Supports Poetry & The Children | Farewell to Rabbi Lance Sussman |Student Art Exhibit | In Memoriam:Professor Emeritus George Wellwarth
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Harpur College Pays Tribute To
Saul Levin, Distinguished Professor of Ancient Languages, Emeritus

 

Professor Saul Levin is unforgettable. He is now back at home after undergoing therapy at Hilltop Retirement Community in Johnson City, New York, following a mild stroke earlier this year. He is recovering steadily and remains his usual enthusiastic, brilliant, and spirited self.

As a child, Levin taught himself both French and Latin out of other people's textbooks. At his mother's insistence, he took French in high school. Although he was already proficient in the language, he wasn't bored in class. "I kept observing what difficulties other students had, and how the teachers would address them," he recalls. That experience probably laid the foundation for his lifelong career in teaching languages.

Levin's fascination with languages followed him to the University of Chicago, where he was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. He majored in Greek and minored in Linguistics, earning a Bachelor of Arts in 1942. Levin continued his education at the University of Chicago and spent three years at Harvard studying Classics as Junior Fellow of the Society of Fellows. In 1949 he earned a Ph.D. in Greek with an emphasis on Latin also.

As an undergraduate, Levin originally intended to major in Romance Languages. He chose Greek over Latin as an elective after looking at a friend's Greek textbook. His instructor, David Grene, taught The Iliad and the Odyssey, and the Socratic Dialogues of Plato in their original Greek. "He had a way of pushing. There was an initial enrollment of 25 [in Greek], but Grene had decided that he would cover the essentials of Greek grammar in less than a quarter of the time. He didn't care how many dropped! It was the few remaining in the class that he cared about. By the end of the semester, we were on the Death of Socrates. Early the next year, he took me aside and urged me to make Greek my major. He assured me I could teach it at a university."

After earning his Ph.D., Levin taught for 1 1/2 years at his alma mater. Next was an assistant professorship at Washington University in St. Louis, MO. Shortly thereafter, Levin received a Faculty Fellowship from the Fund for the Advancement of Education through the Ford Foundation. He returned to Chicago for a year and began the research to which he would dedicate the rest of his life: the inflections in Hebrew and other Semitic languages, and in Indo-European languages in Europe and Asia.

Levin's former University of Chicago instructor, S. Stewart Gordon, recruited him to Harpur College in 1961. Levin was a perfect fit. "I liked it very much! The students, the faculty, the support of the administration, the growth of the library, the encouragement for everyone to make the broadest contributions." His recollections of Harpur reflect the college as it is today, a place where scholarship is strongly encouraged.

"Being at Harpur College brought out the best in me." Levin fondly remembers giving Humanities lectures in the Fine Arts building. He never attempted to publish them, but the thought still occurs to him.

Not surprisingly, Professor Levin's publications are too numerous to list. A selective bibliography, "Linguistic Publications of Saul Levin," compiled by J.P. Brown, appears in the 1997 edition of General Linguistics. He considers among his most significant works a Hebrew Grammar book that he wrote for his own students at Washington University, The Linear B Decipherment Controversy Re-examined (1964) and the Indo-European and Semitic languages: An Exploration of Structural Similarities Related to Accent, Chiefly in Greek, Sanskrit, and Hebrew (1971).

General Linguistics dedicated its 1997 edition to Levin. It includes articles by Levin himself, his daughter Eve, a professor at Ohio State University, and Harpur College Distinguished Professor Emeritus Wilhelm Nicolaisen, and Professor Daniel Williman.

Levin enjoyed following his students' progress as he taught. He often thinks about the late Harpur College alumnus, Jordan Greenwald '82. Levin said, "He was the very best of all; he had it in him to go further than I'd done." After Greenwald's death in 1990, a memorial lounge was created in the library tower to hold his vast book collection. Greenwald's family also established the Jordan M. Greenwald Memorial Scholarship, which assists a junior or senior student of the classics and rotates between a Greek and Latin major in the department.

His academic life is well balanced by a large family. Levin and his wife Ruth recently celebrated their 50th anniversary. They have six children and six grandchildren.

Levin retired in 2000, concluding half a century in academia. Looking back on his career at Harpur College, Levin said, "I have so many sweet memories." His longtime colleague and friend, Aldo Bernardo, Distinguished Service Professor of Italian and Comparative Literature, Emeritus, summarized, "Professor Levin is the most dedicated scholar our campus has ever had. He was instrumental in developing not only a solid Classics Program, but in expanding the scope of the Department to include Arabic and Hebrew. His grasp of universal knowledge was such that he was able to work with various colleagues in a variety of areas. His help contributed immeasurably to my completion of all of Petrarch's Latin letters of his old age. He was also instrumental in developing our Center for Medieval and Early Renaissance Studies, as well as our original and award-winning Humanities Program, which put Harpur College on the map by the mid-seventies. His contributions have been literally immeasurable."

Professor Levin would enjoy hearing from his former students. He can be reached by e-mail at slevin@binghamton.edu

 


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Harpur College Sponsors "Poetry and the Children"

Harpur College encouraged many young writers to cultivate their talent when over 430 students from 31 schools and 11 school districts gathered on Wednesday, May 23rd in the Anderson Center Concert Theater for the 24th annual Poetry and the Children Day.

Poetry and the Children Day, which brings students together for a day of poetry readings, was established as a memorial to Robert Pawlikowski. A published poet, creative writing instructor and campus administrative assistant, Pawlikowski drowned in 1975 while on vacation with his family. The event is a tribute to the efforts Pawlikowski made during his lifetime in nurturing the expressive and intellectual powers of his students as well as those of his own children.

This year's guest poet was Brenda Cave, who regularly shares her work on various stages including coffeehouses, bookstores, at luncheons and speaking engagements. Her recent works include the play Lined in Gold, a wide mix of poetry, short stories and drama reflecting life, love, and flavors of African-American culture.

The event was partially underwritten by Susan Clark-Johnson '67, who began her career as a reporter for the Gannett Company's Binghamton Evening Press, the predecessor of today's Binghamton Press & Sun Bulletin. A quick rise placed her into what was at the time a small and select group of women newspaper publishers, when in 1977, she became publisher of the Gannett-owned Niagara Gazette. In 1983, she returned to Binghamton as publisher of the Press & Sun-Bulletin, presiding over the successful merging of the morning Sun-Bulletin and the Evening Press and setting the standard for similar Gannett mergers throughout the country. Ms. Clark-Johnson is currently president and publisher of the Reno Gazette-Journal and senior group president of Gannett's Pacific Newspaper Group with responsibility for 11 newspapers in Nevada, California, Arizona, Texas, Hawaii and Guam.

Clark-Johnson can strongly relate to children’s love for writing. "I feel strongly children should have be encouraged and afforded opportunities to be express themselves creatively," she said. "I've been very lucky in my life and career. In some part I trace that back to my third grade teacher who took our class outside for art class. She asked us each to draw what we saw. I had a blank piece of paper. I just couldn't do it. I asked her if I could write something instead. She said "yes." I wrote a poem - and that was my picture."

After the opening presentation, students proceeded to the Lecture Hall complex to present their poems. Participants received a copy of an anthology created from their original works. The anthology is prepared by the Office of the Dean of Harpur College and is also distributed to teachers and local libraries.


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Harpur College Says Farewell to Rabbi Lance J. Sussman

Rabbi Lance Sussman likes the quote, "When one teaches, two learn." That is how he summarizes his 15-year career at Harpur College, where he has taught a variety of history and religion courses. He has recently accepted a senior rabbinic position in Philadelphia and will move at the end of June. A popular professor and well-respected clergyman, he will be missed on campus and throughout the community.

Where are you from and where are you going?
I am from Baltimore, MD; my parents are still there. I was an undergraduate at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. My Master's, my rabbinic ordination, and my Ph.D. are all from the Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati. My doctorate was a combined program with the University of Cincinnati. I came here from there and I've been here 15 years. We are moving to the Philadelphia area. I am going to be the Senior Rabbi of Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel, which is known in that area simply as "KI." Founded in the 1840s, it is one of the oldest and largest synagogues in the United States.

Are you giving up teaching?
I am not giving up teaching; I am taking a short break in order to readjust, move my family, learn our way around Philadelphia, become familiar with my new congregation, and then I will go back to teaching again. Philadelphia is rich in schools, universities, and numerous Jewish institutions, so there are all types of possibilities - I think there are six seminaries in the town where we're moving alone including a rabbinic school.

What have you enjoyed about teaching?
What I enjoyed most about teaching was learning. In order to teach you have to learn. I created all types of courses, I taught approximately 14 different courses while I was here. When developing a course, you learn quicker and deeper than just learning passively as a student, so the teacher becomes a student, and I learned a great deal. I actually made my own curriculum broader as things developed around here. I took the effort to globalize the curriculum and to teach comparatively very seriously!

I also think I learned how to teach, although I had some university experience before coming here. I was an instructor of modern Hebrew at the University of Cincinnati, and I was teaching community-based courses: docent training, museums, things like that. I was "presenting" at that point, and now I think I'm teaching in that I'm driven more by how the students learn than presenting the material. I try to teach the person and the material as opposed to teaching the topic alone.

Tell me about your family.
I've been married since August 6, 1977 and we have 5 kids. Three of them are moving with us. One son is a student at Broome Community College and one is at SUNY Oneonta. My wife, Liz, is a music teacher.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I have never experienced spare time. I don't know what it is. I am a Rabbi, a teacher, a father of five, and I have multiple interests. Spare time doesn't exist for me. I need an eighth day!

Could you share a special memory of your years at Harpur College?
I've had wonderful colleagues. First, they've mentored me. I came here "green." Mentoring yielded friendships, and there's learning that goes on there too. It’s amazing how much you can learn with a scholar-friend over a cup of coffee.

I've had some good moments with students, too. My very first day on the job, a student came to me and said, "I don't see how you are going to do it." "Do what?" I asked. "Live in New York and teach at Binghamton!" "I live here," I answered her. "You do," she answered, "I didn't know that Jews lived beyond the Catskills!" "Beyond the Catskills" was instantly adopted as the name of the book I wrote on the local Jewish community, which came out a few years later.

I also remember in an American Jewish History class early in my career here, a young lady handed in a term paper titled "A Jewish soldier in Vietnam: my father." That was a real marker for me in terms of time. I was a high school student during the Vietnam era, there were lingering protests when I started college and it was unfathomable that [someday] I'd have a student whose father was a soldier in Southeast Asia.

Another interesting moment to me was in my Religions of the World class. I had in one section many Korean students. I was talking with some of them, and I asked, "Why are you taking my class, what's your motivation?" and they said, "We're here to study Buddhism." I replied, "That's interesting to me, I assumed that most of you are Presbyterians." They said, "That's true, but our grandparents were Buddhists and we want to know about it." That was an eye opener for me. There's a 3rd generation phenomenon called Hanson's Law, and tersely stated it's maintains that the 3rd generation wants to remember what the 2nd generation wants to forget. It's a phenomenon and dynamic of immigration and it was playing out right in front of me!

In the field of religious studies, there’s a saying: "If you know one religion, you don't know any." When I read that for the first time, it resonated very deeply in me. I hope I've helped students gain fresh perspectives and learn how to think about human spirituality in new and helpful ways. I hope I put a pleasant face on the classroom experience and strengthened a desire for mutual understanding among students from many different religious backgrounds during these last fifteen years.

I am going to miss Binghamton University. I thank the school and my department for giving me the chance to work and to grow here as a person and as a scholar.


2001
Student Art Exhibit

Here on campus, springtime means final exams, a slight improvement in Binghamton’s weather, and the Art department’s annual student exhibit. Everyone enjoyed the vibrant display of talent throughout the Fine Arts building. Take a moment to enjoy a splash of beauty. When these pictures are hanging in museums, you’ll be able to say you saw them here first.

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In Memoriam: Professor George Wellwarth

George E. Wellwarth, professor emeritus of Theater, died on June 11, 2001.

Born in Vienna, Austria on June 6, 1932, Wellwarth earned a B.A. from New York University in 1953, an M.A. from Columbia University in 1954, and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1957. He began his academic career at Harpur College in 1970, following a teaching position at Penn State University.

Wellwarth was a prolific author, known widely among theater enthusiasts as the co-founder and co-editor of Modern International Drama. His writing included Spanish Underground Drama (1972) and Modern Drama and the Death of God (1986). He also edited numerous books about theater, including Modern Spanish Theater: An Anthology of Plays (1969) and German Drama Between the Wars: An Anthology of Plays (1974).

Wellwarth retired from Harpur College in 1996. "George was a very good friend and colleague and he will be missed," said John Vestal, chair of the Theater department, "He taught Intro to Theater and the class was always full. He was always an entertaining lecturer."

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Share A Memory On-Line

Be sure to visit the Harpur College Memory Book - and leave your mark. Share a favorite memory of your Harpur experience, whether as a student or as a faculty or staff member. Or, maybe you just want to wish Harpur a Happy Anniversary. Memories will be listed and updated on a regular basis. Put those thinking caps on and tell us about your favorite Harpur moment.


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