Hofstra Magazine

Taking the Helm

Hofstra College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the School of Health Professions and Human Services will begin the 2017-18 academic year with new deans.

Dr. Benjamin Rifkin
Dean, Hofstra College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Dr. Benjamin Rifkin began his tenure as dean of Hofstra College of Liberal Arts and Sciences on June 15. He succeeds Dr. Bernard Firestone, professor of political science and dean of HCLAS since 1997, who is retiring from the position and returning to the faculty.

Dr. Rifkin, a scholar of Russian language and literature, previously served as provost and vice president for educational affairs at Ithaca College. Prior to that, he served as dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) from 2009 to 2015.
As dean, he led the creation of a new strategic plan and mission statement, as well as the development of an advisory council, a shared governance system, an advising policy, and a public speaking requirement for the School of Humanities and Social Sciences.

“I am excited to join the Hofstra and HCLAS community because I am inspired by the dynamic work of the faculty, students and staff, by Hofstra’s commitment to a learning environment in which students are the very center, and by the warmth and friendliness I experienced in my interactions during my campus visit,” said Dr. Rifkin. “I’m looking forward to working closely with colleagues and students within the college, and throughout campus, and in the greater community to sustain, celebrate and advance our successes, and to engage with both pride and purpose in realizing the mission and vision of Hofstra University.”

Dr. Rifkin’s professional experience also includes an appointment at Temple University, where he was vice dean for undergraduate affairs at the College of Liberal Arts as well as a professor of Russian; department chair at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; director of the Middlebury College Davis School of Russian summer program; and a visiting professor at Princeton University. Dr. Rifkin received an AM and PhD in Slavic languages and literature from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 1987 and 1990, respectively, as well as an MA and a BA (magna cum laude) in Russian and East European studies from Yale University in 1983.

Frequently published in scholarly journals and other publications,
Dr. Rifkin’s co-authored textbook, Panorama, will be published by Georgetown University Press in July of this year. While at UW-Madison, Dr. Rifkin was a recipient of the Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished Teaching (2000) and the College of Letters and Science Faculty Advising Award (2004). He has received several awards from the American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages (AATSEEL). While a faculty member at Wisconsin, Dr. Rifkin received state certification to teach Russian at the secondary level.

Dr. Holly J. Seirup
Dean, School of Health Professions and Human Services

Dr. Holly J. Seirup, who has been serving as vice dean of the School of Health Professions and Human Services since June 2015, was appointed dean in March.

During her tenure as vice dean, the School of Health Professions and Human Services added a graduate program in health informatics and welcomed its first cohort of students in occupational therapy. Also, the school’s Master of Public Health program and its graduate program in mental health counseling earned national accreditations.

“It’s been an honor to work with such talented
and motivated faculty and students to grow and develop the outstanding programs at the School
of Health Professions and Human Services,”
Dr. Seirup said. “I’m excited to become dean of
a school with such promise and potential as
we work together to educate future health care leaders, clinicians and compassionate advocates.”

Dr. Seirup joined Hofstra in 1982, and began teaching full time in 2006. She holds a joint appointment as a professor of counseling and of educational leadership. She previously served as chair of the Department of Counseling and Mental Health Professions.

Before joining the faculty, Dr. Seirup held various positions at Hofstra in Student Affairs for Residence Life and the Dean of Students Office, in addition to serving as vice president of campus life. In 2014 she was chosen by graduating students as the HPHS Teacher of the Year, and in 2015 she received the Robert H. Shaffer Award for Academic Excellence as a Graduate Faculty Member from the National Association for Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA).