FDU Names Interim Provost

May 1, 2023 — Benjamin Rifkin, who has been serving as dean of FDU’s Becton College of Arts and Sciences, has been named FDU’s interim University Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, effective immediately.

Benjamin Rifkin

Benjamin Rifkin University Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

“Ben’s experiences and talents will help FDU continue our progress as we develop new strategies to respond to the rapidly changing landscape of higher education and to ensure that our students are at the forefront of our priorities and in a position to take advantage of numerous opportunities to have transformative experiences,” said FDU President Michael J. Avaltroni.

Rifkin has been serving as dean of the Maxwell Becton College of Arts and Sciences since July 1, 2022. Among many efforts this past year he has worked on two major curricular initiatives within Becton College. First, he worked with Becton College faculty, and faculty and staff beyond Becton College, to develop new interdisciplinary programs in leadership studies, public health, diversity, equity and inclusion studies, digital and multimedia storytelling, medical humanities, and integrative majors, combining the sciences and writing, the sciences and the arts, and the sciences and management. He has also 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 course to be taught in Fall 2023.

Administratively, he streamlined the process for the reappointment of lecturers in Becton College, reducing the burden on lecturers and department chairs alike. He has also proposed realigning the criteria for the reappointment, tenure, and promotion of tenure-track faculty with our values of caring for students. In addition, he has played an important leadership role in the University’s Middle States Self-Study process.

“I am deeply honored to serve in the role of interim provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. I promise to work tirelessly to sustain the excellence of learning and teaching in all the academic programs of our four-campus university and just as tirelessly to advance President Avaltroni’s initiatives to the benefit of our entire community,” said Rifkin. He continued, “I am deeply committed to the mission of Fairleigh Dickinson University to make a personal, global, and transformational education accessible to all those who want to learn at any stage of their lives, building on the legacy of our founder, Peter Sammartino.”

Before coming to FDU, 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 at events in Eastern Europe and Russia. Rifkin 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.

Janet Boyd, the associate dean of Becton College, will now serve as interim dean.

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