Harriman Institute faculty in memoriam


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  • Robert L. Belknap (1929-2014)


    Robert L. Belknap, Professor Emeritus of Russian in the Department of Slavic Languages, was a magisterial teacher of literature in true Columbia tradition, a guiding intellect and scholar in the field of Russian literature, a committed educator who devoted his energy and vision to making Columbia an institution to be proud of.  A native New Yorker, Belknap was educated at Princeton University, the University of Paris, Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) State University, and Columbia University (Ph.D. in Slavic Languages and Literatures, 1960). He was known the world over as an expert on Russian literature, on Dostoevsky, in particular.  He was the author of two major studies on Dostoevsky’s masterpiece, The Brothers Karamazov:  The Structure of The Brothers Karamazov (1967, reprinted 1989) and The Genesis of the Brothers Karamazov (1992), which both appeared in Russian translation. The intellectual excitement that Robert Belknap generated in his classrooms is legendary.  His repertory ranged over the canon of Russian literature.  He taught Literature Humanities in the Columbia Core curriculum for over fifty years.  Students chose him for the Van Doren Great Teacher Award in 1980 and alumni chose him for the Society of Columbia Graduates Great Teacher Award in 2010. [Read more here; read his essay on teaching in Harriman Magazine].

     

     

     

  • Leopold Haimson (1927-2010)


    Leopold Haimson, Professor Emeritus of Russian History, was a longtime faculty member of the Harriman Institute, and beloved teacher, colleague and friend. In his famously demanding seminars, he mentored several generations of graduate students, many of whom went on to distinguished careers. Haimson’s influential first book, The Russian Marxists and the Origins of Bolshevism (1955), was notable for its artful weaving of intellectual history and psychologically acute biographies of leading revolutionaries. In 1964 he initiated a catalytic debate with the publication in Slavic Review of a two-part article on the viability of late imperial Russia on the eve of the First World War and the inevitability of revolution. In the 1970s and 1980s he took a more comparative approach to the study of pre-revolutionary and revolutionary Russia, working with the sociologist Charles Tilly and the economic historian Giulio Sapelli on strike waves and revolutions in an international perspective. He continued to publish widely on the social and political history of Russia before and during 1917. During the Soviet era, Haimson worked hard to set up collaborations with Soviet colleagues, and he developed close ties with the Maison des Sciences de l’Homme in Paris. Throughout his career he showed a deep interest in questions of individual and collective identities, drawing on cultural anthropology to explore Russian political culture and on psychology to analyze the actions of key individuals in the period he studied in such a rich and productive way.

     

  • William E. Harkins (1921-2014)


    William E. Harkins, Professor Emeritus of the Department of Slavic Languages at Columbia University, was a true renaissance man: he was an expert on Russian prose, a specialist in Slavic folklore, one of the first American scholars to do serious work in Czech literature, the author of a monograph on Karel Čapek, a translator from Czech, the author of the Dictionary of Russian Literature, the author of a Czech language textbook and co-author of a widely used textbook of Russian grammar, and a promoter of regional studies.  Generations of Columbia students remember him fondly for his contribution to their training on all these fronts, as well as for his good will, his attention to their development as writers, and his having made them attuned to the interplay of word and image in Slavic culture. His colleagues were profoundly grateful to him for his generous service to the Slavic Department, the Russian Institute, the university, and the Slavic field at large.  He played an important role in making Columbia an important center for Slavic studies. Born in 1921 in State College, Pennsylvania, William Harkins received his B.A. degree from Pennsylvania State University.  After military service, he did his graduate work in the Slavic Department at Columbia and received his doctorate in 1950.  His dissertation, published as a book, was The Russian Folk Epos in Czech Literature.  Professor Harkins taught in the Slavic Department at Columbia for the next forty years. [Read more here].

  • Peter H. Juviler (1926-2013)


    Peter H. Juviler, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Barnard College, was a 1954 graduate of the Russian Institute, 2011 Harriman Alumnus of the Year, and a long-time Harriman faculty member. Juviler, a steadfast advocate for the study of human rights at Columbia and Barnard, served as co-director of the Center for the Study of Human Rights and co-chair of the University Seminar on Human Rights at Columbia, as well as the Director of Human Rights Studies at Barnard College. On the topic of human rights, Juviler has coedited Religion and Human Rights: Competing Claims? (M.E. Sharpe, 1999), and Human Rights for the 21st Century: Foundations for Responsible Hope (Armonk, NY, M.E. Sharpe, 1993), and is the author of Freedom's Ordeal: The Struggle for Human Rights and Democracy in Post-Soviet States (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1998). His human rights legacy at the Harriman Institute lives on in the Harriman Institute’s 2011 Core Project: Human Rights in the Post-Communist World: Strategies and Outcomesand the annual course: Human Rights in Post-Communist Eurasia. [Read a profile of him in Harriman Magazine]

     

  • Peter Kussi (1925-2012)


    Born in Prague, Czechoslovakia, Peter Kussi had a distinguished career in the field of Czech literature as a scholar, editor and translator. He taught Czech language and literature at Columbia for many years and is known for his translation of the works of Milan Kundera, among them the novel Immortality which won the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. He also edited an anthology of the works of Karel Čapek.

  • Robert A. Maguire (1930-2005)


    Robert A. Maguire, Boris Bakhmeteff Professor Emeritus of Russian and East European Studies, was an eminent scholar of 19th- and 20th-century Russian literature. Maguire launched the careers of generations of Columbia graduate students, many of whom are now at the forefront of their field. He was also an accomplished musician, serving on the board of directors of the Chamber Music Conference and playing viola in the amateur chamber music community in New York. Maguire’s works are classics in the field of Slavic literature. His path-breaking Red Virgin Soil (1968) is still the definitive study of Soviet literature in the 1920s, and his Gogol from the 20th Century (1974) has introduced generations of Western readers to the Russian scholarly tradition on that author. Maguire’s own study of Gogol (Exploring Gogol, 1994) received the Modern Language Association’s Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for outstanding work in Slavic Languages and Literatures, and his translation (with John Malmstad) of Andrei Bely’s Petersburg (1978) is widely recognized as the definitive English version of that novel. Before joining the Columbia faculty in 1962, Maguire taught at Duke and Dartmouth and held visiting professorships at Indiana University, Oxford, the University of Illinois, Yale, Princeton, and Harvard. He was the recipient of grants and fellowships from the Ford Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Guggenheim Foundation. In 2002, the American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages honored Maguire with its prestigious award for Outstanding Contribution to Scholarship.
  • Frank J. Miller (1940-2016)


    Professor Miller, Professor of Russian, Russian Language Coordinator, Department of Slavic Languages, devoted his entire life to studying, teaching, and writing about the Russian language. A graduate of Florida State University (1962), he received his Ph.D. from Indiana University in 1976 with a dissertation on the folklore of the Stalin Era. He taught at the University of South Carolina (1972-77), Bryn Mawr College (1977-78), and Colby College (1978-85) before embarking on his legendary career at Columbia University in 1985. Frank was a vital member of the Columbia Slavic Department for thirty years, down to his very last day, teaching language—and language teaching—at every level, directing the Russian language program for decades, and chairing the department from 1994 to 1998. He was a long-term colleague of the Russian School at Middlebury, served as president of AATSEEL in 1999-2000, and was the recipient of the Hettleman Award for Distinguished Teaching and Service at Columbia University in 1988 and the AATSEEL Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1996. [Read more here].

  • Catharine Theimer Nepomnyashchy (1951-2015)


    Catharine Theimer Nepomnyashchy was a cherished member of the Harriman Institute, Columbia University, and Barnard College communities since she enrolled as a doctoral student in Columbia’s Slavic Department in 1973. Nepomnyashchy was the first woman to direct the Harriman Institute (2001 – 2009), and was honored as the Institute's Alumna of the Year in 2012. During her eight years as Director of the Harriman Institute, Nepomnyashchy broadened the Institute’s scope in the areas of culture, literature, and the arts. Nepomnyashchy joined the Barnard College faculty in 1987, and became Chair of the Barnard Slavic Department in 2000 and Ann Whitney Olin Professor of Russian Literature and Culture in 2003. A groundbreaking scholar who wrote the first comprehensive book on the Abram Tertz works of Russian dissident writer Andrei Sinyavsky (Abram Tertz and the Poetics of Crime, 1995) and co-edited with Nicole Svobodny and Ludmilla Trigos the first-ever English-language volume on the Russian poet Alexander Pushkin’s African heritage (Under the Sky of My Africa: Alexander Pushkin and Blackness, 2006), she was known for exploring topics—such as Russian chat rooms that focus on the English writer Jane Austen and President Vladimir Putin’s fashion choices—that fell outside the conventional boundaries of Slavic studies. [Read a profile of her in Harriman Magazine].

  • Marc Raeff (1923-2008)


    Marc Raeff was a renowned Russian historian who was instrumental in the creation and development of Columbia’s Bakhmeteff Archive. Born in Moscow, he lived in Czechoslovakia, Berlin, Paris, and moved to New York in 1941. He earned a Ph.D. from Harvard and taught at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, from 1949 to 1961. Raeff spent the rest of his career at Columbia University, where he was named Bakhmeteff Professor of Russian Studies in 1973; he retired in 1988. He has published hundreds of monographs, translations, articles, and reviews in four languages in a wide range of publications. His research focused on the Russian Empire, with an emphasis on the Russian intelligentsia at home and in diaspora. He contributed significantly to the Slavic and Baltic Division of the New York Public Library. 

     

  • Harold B. Segel (1930-2016)


    Harold B. Segel, professor emeritus of Slavic Languages and of Comparative Literature at Columbia University,  joined the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures in 1959. At Columbia, he held appointments in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the School of the Arts, the School of International and Public Affairs, and the School of General Studies. He was director of graduate studies in the Department of Slavic Languages, 1977-80; member of the Council for Research in the Humanities, Columbia University, 1977-79 (chair 1978-79), member of the Columbia University Senate, 1978-82; and director, Institute on East Central Europe, 1978-88. The recipient of numerous fellowships, grants and awards, he was twice decorated in 1975 by the Polish government for contributions on behalf of Polish culture, first at the Ministry of Culture in Warsaw and again at the Polish Consulate in New York. Segel published extensively in several fields. A scholar of Polish literature and culture, he authored numerous monographs on Polish drama, Romanticism, Renaissance Culture, and the place of the Jews in Polish culture. In the field of Russian letters, he was best known for his volumes on the literature of the eighteenth century, but he published on twentieth-century Russian drama as well. An authority on Eastern Europe more broadly, he authored both The Columbia Guide to and The Columbia Literary History of the Literatures of Eastern Europe Since 1945, as well as a monograph on East European prison literature from 1945-1990. He was also a prolific comparatist, publishing on Austrian and German culture, on Baroque poetry, on turn-of-the-century cabaret in cities across Europe, on puppets, robots, and automatons in avant-garde drama, and on the physical imperatives of modernism. 

     

  • Marshall D. Shulman (1916-2007)


    Marshall D. Shulman was a graduate of the first class of the Russian Institute, and founding director of the Harriman Institute. He devoted his life to understanding the Soviet Union as a leading scholar, a policymaker and a principal builder of Columbia’s Russian studies program. Shulman held the rank of ambassador as the principal adviser on Soviet matters to Secretary of State Cyrus R. Vance in the Carter administration and was a speechwriter for Secretary of State Dean G. Acheson in the Truman administration. As a private citizen, he helped organize meetings between scientists and others from the United States and Russia that many believe helped ease cold war tensions. In 1982, Shulman persuaded Mr. W. Averell Harriman and his wife, Pamela, to endow the Russian Institute with $11.5 million, after which it became the W. Averell Harriman Institute. [Read New York Times obituary].

  • Stanislaw Wellisz (1925-2016)


    Stanislaw Wellisz, Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Professor Emeritus of Economics and International Relations, was a Polish-born economist and longtime Columbia University professor who helped guide his native country’s transition from communism to capitalism. He specialized in development economics, a field that satisfied his fascination with world cultures and his deep desire to help the poor. He helped draw up a new tariff structure for Nepal, aided Venezuela’s efforts to restructure its finances and advised city planners in Calcutta and Istanbul. He was a member of World Bank missions to Iran, Jordan, Algeria and the former Yugoslavia. He joined the Department of Economics at Columbia in 1964 after teaching at the University of Chicago (Business) and Williams College. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1954. In 1998 he received an honorary doctorate from Warsaw University as well as the Officer of Polish Legion of Merit. Wellisz was Chair of the Department at Columbia for three years and acting Chair for another year. He retired in 2006.