Rifkin loses ‘interim’ tag, now permanent provost at FDU

Benjamin Rifkin, who has had great impact at Fairleigh Dickinson University while serving as interim provost since May, got a new title today: provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, the school announced.

Rifkin was selected after careful consideration and evaluation of several highly qualified candidates brought forward by the search committee, which was led by School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Dean Anastasia Rivkin.

His time on the job in an interim role was key.

Among Rifkin’s top accomplishments during his role as interim provost was convening a task force with faculty, staff and students that conducted a long overdue evaluation of the existing structure of shared governance and developed a charter for a proposed new structure that the community is now reviewing. He also has also taken a leadership role in the critical Middle States accreditation process as he chairs the Self-Study Steering Committee.

FDU President Michael Avaltroni applauded the announcement.

“Ben has fully embraced our core value of putting students first, and he has excelled in many varied pursuits during his time as interim provost,” he said. “We know he will provide strong leadership of our academic programs, develop new initiatives that well serve students and faculty and help FDU navigate the challenges in higher education and seize the opportunities to reach a new level of excellence.”

Rifkin joined FDU in 2022 as the dean of the Maxwell Becton College of Arts and Sciences, where he led initiatives to develop new interdisciplinary programs and incorporate project-based learning with students at partner institutions worldwide.

“I fell in love with the FDU community when I first came to the New Jersey campuses as a candidate for the role of dean of the Maxwell Becton College of Arts and Sciences, and that love has only grown over the last 18 months,” he said.

“I promise that I will continue to do all I can to support our faculty, staff and students in the learning, teaching and research missions that are central to FDU, and to work closely with President Avaltroni and all the members of his cabinet to ensure that these missions are symbiotically supportive of and supported by the other divisions of the university.”

Before joining FDU, he was professor of Russian and dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Hofstra University. Previously, he was provost at Ithaca College and, prior to that, the dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at The College of New Jersey. A native of Bergen County, he has produced an impressive record of scholarship in Russian studies and language pedagogy, and he is in great demand as a speaker on events in Eastern Europe and Russia.