- Ithaca, NY, US
Benjamin (Ben) Rifkin began attending the University of Michigan in 1985 to pursue his PhD in Slavic languages and literature and defended his dissertation on semiotics of narration in film and literature in 1990. He took up his first position as a tenure track assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he was promoted first with tenure to the rank of associate professor and then to the rank of professor. In 2005 he left UW-Madison to join the administration of the College of Liberal Arts at Temple University, where he served as Vice Dean for Undergraduate Affairs and Professor of Russian. In 2009 he was named Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at The College of New Jersey where he oversaw a budget of $15 million and worked with over 100 tenure-track faculty in 14 departments. While service as a dean at The College of New Jersey, Ben Rifkin helped foster the development and implementation of a new school-wide advising policy, subsequently adopted by the College as a whole, as well as a new public speaking requirement for all HSS undergraduate majors. Most significant, however, were Ben Rifkin's efforts to enhance student participation in transformative learning experiences, such as study abroad, undergraduate research, community-engaged learning, and internships. He left The College of New Jersey in 2015 to become Provost and Vice President for Educational Affairs and Professor of Modern Languages at Ithaca College.
While serving in leadership positions, Ben Rifkin has focused on building community with new traditions, such as "doggie stress relief days" and "debate the deans." At The College of New Jersey, he set up coffees and lunches for students and sent a weekly email message to all members of the humanities and social science community with some inspiring words for the week and recognition of community members with notable accomplishments, earning him the moniker of "Friendly Neighborhood Dean."
Benjamin Rifkin has extensive experience in mentoring faculty and has given numerous workshops on teaching around the country. He has also published book chapters and articles on innovative strategies for teaching, for example, a co-authored paper on oral history in the foreign language curriculum, to be published in 2017 in an edited volume.