Benjamin Rifkin

Dean, Maxwell Becton College of Arts and Sciences


Courses Taught

  • Russian Literature in Translation
  • History of Russian Film
  • Russian History
  • Language and Discrimination (Sociolinguistics)
  • Methods of Teaching World Languages


  • World language education
  • Pedagogy for teaching the liberal arts
  • Textbooks for the teaching of Russian
  • Russian literature
  • Russian film


  • PhD, University of Michigan (Slavic Languages and Literatures)
  • MA, University of Michigan (Slavic Languages and Literatures)
  • MA, Yale University, Russian and East European Studies
  • BA, Yale University, Russian and East European Studies


Academic Profile

Dean Rifkin’s academic career began at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he served on the faculty of the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures for 15 years.  Before joining Fairleigh Dickinson University as a Professor and Dean of the Maxwell Becton College of Arts and Sciences, he held academic leadership positions at Temple University, The College of New Jersey, Ithaca College, and Hofstra University. In these roles, he has worked with colleagues to develop new programs to expand student participation in transformative learning experiences (community-engaged learning, internships, study abroad, and undergraduate research).

Rifkin has written two books and two co-authored books. He has edited or co-edited scholarly volumes and is the author of over two dozen articles in refereed journals including the ADFL Bulletin, Foreign Language Annals, Language Learning, Modern Language Journal, Russian Language Journal, Slavic & East European Journal, as well as articles in Russian for journals published in the Russian Federation, focusing on curricular design and the assessment of learning outcomes. Rifkin is the co-author of the Russian-language textbooks Panorama (Georgetown University Press) and Advanced Russian through History (Yale University Press).  He has given dozens of invited lectures, workshops, and refereed conference presentations on the liberal arts, world language education, curricular design, and assessment of learning outcomes. Rifkin’s current research focuses on compassion and global citizenship in the liberal arts curriculum. He has won millions of dollars in grants from private foundations and the US Department of Education to create learning experiences (e.g., oral history interview programs, community-engaged learning on a faculty-led study tour) and award-winning instructional materials for the study of the Russian language, history, and culture, including RAILS.

Dean Rifkin is originally from Bergen County, New Jersey, and Rockland County, New York. He and his wife have two grown children, both of whom hold liberal arts degrees. In his spare time, Rifkin enjoys science fiction (a Star Trek fan from the debut of the original series). He dreams of one day getting another golden retriever.

For more information, see Dean Rifkin’s LinkedIn Profile.

Selected Awards

  • Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa, Middlebury College
  • Wilga Rivers Award for Leadership in Foreign Language Education, American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages
  • Interfaith Service Award, Islamic Center of Long Island
  • Lilian Stroebe Medal for Global Citizenship and Advocacy for the Study of Languages and Cultures, Middlebury College
  • Awards from the American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages and American Council of Teachers of Russian for Scholarship, Teaching, and Service
  • Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished Teaching, University of Wisconsin-Madison