Levinson honors exceptional teachers

Richard Levinson

Richard Levinson

Richard Levinson can remember the history of the Rollins School of Public Health before it carried the Rollins name and before it was a school or even a program.

As executive associate dean for academic affairs, Levinson marvels at the progress that Rollins has made since it evolved from a master’s program in 1975 into a full-fledged school in 1990. A key contributor to that success as a founding member, professor, administrator, and supporter of the school, Levinson has spent more than 30 years in public health at Emory. Now, at a new milestone in the school’s history, Levinson has made a gift to the new Claudia Nance Rollins Building through “Seating Our Future,” a program to dedicate seats in the building’s 250-seat Rollins Auditorium.

A respected teacher himself—he won the Thomas Jefferson Award, the university’s highest faculty honor, in 2005—Levinson decided to recognize exceptional teachers at Rollins through his gift of six seats dedicated to each Emory Williams Teaching Award winner.

“What happens in the classroom matters,” Levinson says. “One of the big challenges of a major research university is incentivizing teaching. Anything I can do to encourage and reward teachers is worth doing. That is why students come here, and that is why they tell other students to come here.”

Levinson’s gift honors Emory Williams award winners Kathleen Miner (1994), David Kleinbaum (2000), Nancy Thompson (2007), Steven Culler (2008), Deborah McFarland (2009), and Stanley Foster (2010). Presented during commencement, the annual award is the university’s highest honor for teaching excellence.

“This is a very meaningful gift honoring teaching, and it means even more because it is given by one of Emory’s finest teachers,” says RSPH Dean James Curran. “Over the past decades, Dick has been a distinguished teacher of undergraduates in sociology as well as graduate students at Rollins.”

In addition to recognizing Rollins teachers, Levinson’s gift counts toward MyEmory, the employee and retiree component of Campaign Emory. Contributions from faculty and staff will help the school reach its $150 million campaign goal.

Supporting Rollins is part of his responsibility as an educator and administrator, Levinson says. “We derive our livelihood from the school, and we should try to nurture it. It is an investment that pays back in a variety of ways, including enhancing the institution we are a part of and enhancing the experience of students who will think well of us in the future.”—Maria Lameiras

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