11/29/2021 Staff

Institutions of History

This magazine article is part of Spring 2021 / Issue 96
  • Matthew Hoffman and Mohammed Alhammami '15

Matthew Hoffman

Associate Professor of Judaic Studies and History

Matthew B. Hoffman, Associate Professor of Judaic Studies and History, died June 5, 2020, after a lengthy battle with cancer.

Professor Hoffman joined the Franklin & Marshall faculty in 2004 as a key member of the Judaic Studies program, with a joint appointment in History and Judaic Studies. He received his Ph.D. from the joint doctoral program in Jewish Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, and

the Graduate Theological Union, after earning a master’s degree from the latter in Judaic Studies and a bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara. 

Steeped in interdisciplinarity, his scholarship examined the dynamics of Jewish religion, culture, and politics with a focus on Jewish identities in transition and tension. In his first book, From Rebel to Rabbi: Reclaiming Jesus and the Making of Modern Jewish Culture (2007) published with Stanford University Press, he focused on Jewish depictions of Jesus in Yiddish literature, artistic works, and Jewish intellectual debates to document a shift in Jewish perceptions of Jesus that reflected attempts to carve out a distinctly modern European Jewish identity.

In the last several years, he began to move into a new area of intellectual passion: free speech debates in American academia and society. He considered himself to be an exponent of classic

Enlightenment principles that are essential to free, democratic societies; and he hoped that this new line of scholarship would contribute to the continuation and strength of those principles and practices. He dedicated himself tirelessly to the F&M chapter of the American Association of University Professors. Professor Hoffman served as co-president and president of the chapter for two terms and he sat on its executive board for several additional years.

At F&M, Professor Hoffman offered courses in premodern and modern Jewish history, American Jewish cinema and humor, Jewish historiography, and Eastern European Jewish culture; he was especially passionate about his CNX classes, “Why We Hate” and “Freedom of Speech.” He was a cheerful, engaging professor, and his students knew and appreciated his intellect, warmth, and kindness.

  • John Joseph

John Joseph

Lewis Audenried Professor of History Emeritus

Professor John Joseph was born in Baghdad, Iraq, where he attended the American School for Boys. He arrived at Franklin & Marshall in 1946 intending to major in chemistry, but a growing interest in his cultural origins led him to graduate with honors in history in 1950.  He went on to earn a doctorate from Princeton University in 1957 before returning to the College as a faculty member in 1961, where he taught Middle Eastern history until his retirement in 1988.

Described by a colleague as “the closest approximation to the ideal of a humane scholar-teacher I know,” Professor Joseph was a highly regarded historian, the author of three books on Assyrian history, and an elected fellow of the Middle East Studies Association.  He was a much-beloved teacher, recipient of an Outstanding Educators of America award in 1971, and F&M's Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching in 1978.

A meaningful reminder of his lasting influence on generations of former F&M students is the John Joseph International Center, named in his honor by the building’s donor, Andrew Schindler ’72. Professor Joseph is survived by his wife Betty, three children, and their immediate and extended families.

  • Stanley Michalak

Stanley Michalak

Kunkel Professor of Government Emeritus

Stanley J. Michalak, The Honorable and Mrs. John C. Kunkel Professor of Government Emeritus and a member of the F&M faculty for 38 years, passed away Jan. 2 at his home.

He was a lively presence on campus and in the Department of Government. He was stimulating and thought-provoking, always trying to get colleagues and students to see the conventional in unfamiliar ways. As department chair, he helped to nurture and guide young instructors by offering encouragement and supportive advice. He was a whirlwind of ideas, and his kindness always shone through. His quick wit always lightened department meetings and hallway conversations among colleagues.

He could mix intellectual engagement and laughter, brightening heavy discussions with infectious humor.

Professor Michalak was hired in 1966 to teach international politics and, because of the changing nature of political science, to create a new course on political statistics. Gov 80, which later became Gov 250, has been a requirement in the major for the past 50 years, a fact that challenged several generations of students who did not expect to encounter mathematics in the study of politics. His main specialty was international politics, and he taught the introductory course in that sub-field plus an upper level course on foreign policy analysis and a variety of demanding and popular senior seminars on contemporary American diplomacy.

His scholarly work initially focused on international organizations including the League of Nations and the United Nations. At the end of the Cold War, he addressed the need to consider newly emergent conceptions of American foreign policy with a book of readings illustrating six alternative worldviews. His most important work, published in 2001, was A Primer in Power Politics. A leading scholar in the field at Duke University wrote that the book “provides a masterful introduction to humanistic realism and its capacity to shed light on the fundamental forces that shape world politics.”

He is survived by his large and loving family, some with significant F&M connections: his wife, Beverly, whom many may remember from her service as Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations in the Advancement Office at the College from 1999 to 2004; his children, Sarah and David; three stepdaughters, Kim, Terri ’89, and Cheryl, whose spouse, Alfonso, works in Facilities Management at F&M; and his stepdaughters’ seven children.

  • David Schuyler, 1983

David Schuyler

Shadek Professor of Humanities

David Schuyler, a beloved, esteemed teacher and scholar at Franklin & Marshall College since 1979, died on July 24, 2020. The Arthur and Katherine Shadek Professor of Humanities and American Studies, Professor Schuyler won the college’s top awards – the Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation Award for distinguished teaching (1994) and the Bradley R. Dewey Award for scholarship and teaching. Among other national honors, he received the Olana Partnership’s prestigious Frederic Church Award in October 2018 for “outstanding contributions to American culture.”

More than four decades of students at Franklin & Marshall benefited from his instruction, mentorship, and care. Professor Schuyler supervised Hackman Scholars nearly every summer. With student co-authors, he wrote several histories of the college that focused on its architecture and landscape. This work culminated in the placement of Old Main, Diagnothian Hall and Goethean Hall on the National Register of Historic Places in 2010.

He also involved student researchers in his multi-year project editing volume nine of the Frederick Law Olmsted Papers.

Professor Schuyler was an imaginative, tireless scholar since his graduate years at Columbia University. He was an expert on the history of the American landscape, urban planning and notable artists, landscape architects and planners, such as Jervis McEntee, Andrew Downing, Frederick Law Olmsted, and Ebenezer Howard. In the last decade of his life, his research focused on a region he loved and in which he had deep roots - the Hudson River Valley.

Professor Schuyler ’s love of Lancaster and F&M permeated his life. He regularly hosted students and colleagues at his home a few blocks from campus. He served the college on its most important elected committees, connected with alumni through his popular tours of Central Park, and built an enduring curriculum in the Department of  American Studies. His campus tours showcased his exceptional knowledge, which included detailed histories of particular trees. The long lines outside his office during Homecoming Weekend demonstrated the legacy of his mentorship. He devoted his career to the Franklin & Marshall community and showed how a small college can be the setting for an expansive life. We are in his debt.

  • Joe Voelker

Joseph Voelker

Former Professor of English

Joe Voelker, former Professor of  English, passed away on Oct. 31 at his home in Massachusetts.

Professor Voelker was a 1969 F&M grad who taught in the Department of English from 1974, when he and his wife, Cathy, lived for a year in Schnader Dorm–long before anyone would have thought to call him a don–until he left to take on administrative responsibilities at the University of Hartford in Connecticut. At the time of his death, Joe and Cathy had moved from Connecticut to Massachusetts to be closer to daughter Julia, her husband, Matt and their beloved grandson, Max.

During his time at F&M, Professor Voelker was a wonderful mentor and guide to a generation of faculty in the Department of English. He brought joy, playfulness, beaming intelligence, and decency into the lives of his students and colleagues. He was hired and served in tandem with colleagues Jeff Steinbrink and Anton Ugolnik, who will dearly miss him. Along with others in the department at the time, he was responsible for hiring the “triplets” - Tamara Goeglein, Padmini Mongia and Patricia O’Hara - colleagues who famously changed the character of the Department of English for decades to come. And soon after, Joe was chair when Professor of English Judith Mueller was hired. Thus, he oversaw and nurtured the department’s transition to one that had been entirely male to one that welcomed this new generation of women colleagues.

He is remembered very dearly as a most excellent lunch companion - an initiator of such lunch breaks - back in the days when we left our desks and shared a midday meal. He understood how food and drink draw people together, and more than once did the department gather at his home to enjoy his exceptional cuisine and hospitality. Professor Voelker originated the tradition of departmental retreats accompanied by food, and he orchestrated many departmental discussions of thorny issues with grace and humor. He was an ever-welcoming mentor to the women who joined the department, the department he so loved.

He was forthright but never unkind. He was a natural teller of stories, and a consummate professional admired greatly by his students. Rarely, if ever, was his office door closed.

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