Provost’s Bio

Dean Rifkin

Benjamin Rifkin, Ph.D., provost and senior vice president for academic affairs

Dr. Benjamin Rifkin was named interim provost in May, 2023 and then as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs on January 1, 2024. He had previously served as Dean of FDU’s Maxwell Becton College of Arts and Sciences. Among many efforts, he worked on two major curricular initiatives within Becton College. He convened the Becton College faculty in a retreat to identify the most pressing matters and worked to address them in his first year as dean. In his first eighteen months at FDU, Rifkin launched an initiative to infuse project-based learning in the arts and sciences curricula with learning tasks with students at partner institutions around the world, with the first pilot courses taught in Spring 2024: COIL Partnership in Action: A Global Exchange.

As Provost, Rifkin has established a group called “Academic Leaders” consisting of faculty and staff leaders in the Academic Affairs division, which he convenes once each semester to brainstorm solutions to problems proposed by the Academic Leaders group itself. In 2023-2024, this group worked on budgetary challenges, community-building, and enhancing collaboration among different units within the University. Rifkin says, “The University has gone to great lengths and considerable expense to recruit talented and dedicated faculty and staff: it’s extremely productive to bring these people together for collaborative and creative problem solving.”

Before coming to FDU in 2022, Dr. Rifkin served as a Professor of Russian and Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Hofstra University. He was previously the provost at Ithaca College and before that the Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at The College of New Jersey.

He has an impressive record of scholarship in Russian Studies and Language Pedagogy. His work on Language Pedagogy and his service to his discipline has been widely recognized by his peers, as has his advocacy on behalf of students, women, and interfaith dialogue. He is often in demand as a speaker on events in Eastern Europe and Russia. He has won three awards for his scholarship from the American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages, and awards for his service to the profession from three different scholarly associations. He has also been recognized with a doctorate of letters honoris causa from Middlebury College for his scholarship on language education and intercultural understanding.

Rifkin’s current research projects focus on two books, each with a co-author:

  • A second edition of the textbook Advanced Russian through History ( co-authored with Dr. Anna Alsufieva of Portland State University, to be published by Georgetown University Press in late 2025);
  • A volume dedicated to the teaching of compassion in the world language curriculum at all levels of instruction from Pre-K through graduate studies (co-authored with Dr. Manuela Wagner of the University of Connecticut, to be published by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages in 2026).