Benjamin Rifkin

Dean, Hofstra College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Hofstra University


High-Impact Practices

As a leader in higher education, I have focused on reducing impediments to student participation in high-impact / transformative learning experiences such as study abroad, internships, community-engaged learning, and undergraduate research, and experiential learning (learning outside a traditional classroom) in part because I was fortunate enough to have participated in these opportunities as an undergraduate myself. While at Yale in the late 1970s and early 1980s, I studied abroad in the Soviet Union, held a summer internship at a law firm, volunteered as a tutor in English composition skills for center-city New Haven students, worked with a professor on a translation project (undergraduate research), and twice participated in the production of a Russian-language play (experiential learning).

These experiences had a profound and transformative impact on my life, so I have been very focused on making such opportunities more available to students and on providing support for faculty to be able to offer such opportunities. In addition to the accomplishments listed below, I developed a new student award at The College of New Jersey’s School of Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS), the Dean’s Award for Excellence in the Liberal Arts (DAELA), recognizing graduating students with excellence in their academic achievements in their major as well as excellence in one or more of the transformative learning experiences, with the most accomplished DAELA laureate of each given graduating class asked to carry the HSS gonfalon at commencement.

Community-Engaged Learning (CEL):
I developed CEL courses at UW-Madison, Temple University, and TCNJ. I worked with faculty in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) and the Bonner Institute for Community-Engaged Learning to develop at least one course in every major at the sophomore level or above in which a CEL experience would be embedded, resulting in a nearly 58% increase in student participation in CEL courses at these levels from calendar year 2014 to calendar year 2015.

Credit-Bearing Internships:
I developed internship courses myself in the Russian program at UW-Madison and TCNJ; worked with faculty to ensure a credit-bearing internship course was included in every major. I worked with faculty and Career Center at TCNJ to systematize publicity for these opportunities, resulting in an 11% increase in student participation in credit-bearing internships for seniors graduating in 2015 as compared to those graduating in 2014.

Experiential Learning:
I taught a course featuring the performance of a play as a graduate student at the University of Michigan. I developed an intergenerational oral history course at Temple University; supported faculty development of experiential learning at TCNJ including courses taught in correctional facilities and archives and systematically publicized these opportunities, resulting in an increase in a 10% increase in student participation in experiential learning opportunities for seniors graduating in 2015 as compared to those graduating in 2014.

Study Abroad:
I worked closely with UW-Madison International Education to reduce curricular barriers to participation in study abroad opportunities. I reviewed study abroad programs for students of Russian at UW-Madison. I collaborated with international education officers at Temple University to enhance study abroad programming and financial aid opportunities and reviewed study abroad program at Temple’s Japan Campus in Tokyo. I reviewed study abroad programs in Western Europe, Turkey, Kazakhstan, and China for TCNJ. I developed and implemented an alternative spring break program with community-engaged learning for students of Russian at TCNJ. I worked with senior international education officer at TCNJ to support faculty in HSS departments to develop and implement curricular integration plans for study abroad in each major, resulting in a 21% increase in student participation in study abroad for seniors graduating in 2015 as compared to those graduating in 2014.

Undergraduate Research:
I ran a collaborative research project with graduate students at UW-Madison resulting in a co-authored publication in The Modern Language Journal in 1998. I ran a collaborative research project at Temple University with two undergraduates, one in French and one in statistics, resulting in a publication in The ADFL Bulletin. At TCNJ I worked with faculty in HSS departments to ensure that papers and presentations co-authored with students would be recognized in reappointment, tenure and promotion processes. At the request of HSS faculty, I developed a school-wide celebration of undergraduate research (annually in December) to complement the college-wide celebration (annually in April) I also worked with colleagues across campus to count undergraduate research projects in the faculty activity reporting process and publicize these numbers as part of promotion of the College as a whole (e.g., 25% of all faculty publications in one given year were co-authored with a current or recent student). These efforts resulted in a 27% increase in participation in undergraduate research for seniors graduating in 2015 as compared to those graduating in 2014.