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Longtime University benefactor dies

Longtime community and Binghamton University benefactor Dr. Israel J. Rosefsky died Thursday, Oct. 20, of heart failure at the age of 95. Rosefsky gave back to the community during and after his 57-year career as a local pediatrician, and at Binghamton University established the Elsie B. Rosefsky Visiting Artist Series following his wife’s death in 1987. The student art gallery is also named in her honor and, in 1988, Rosefsky endowed the Language and Culture Scholarship Fund to help students participate in study abroad programs.

“We’re grateful to Dr. Rosefsky and his late wife for their long term support of the University,” President Lois B. DeFleur said. “Dr. Rosefsky and his wife believed in higher education and the importance of supporting both the arts as well as international activities. Dr. Rosefsky personally took an interest in our students and our programs and shared our vision of developing comprehensive internationalization at the University. I deeply regret his death. He will be missed.”

The contributions Rosefsky made to campus have had far reaching affects in both the arts and study abroad programs. “Through the years he’s funded some unique courses that I teach that needed some special funding, separate from the visiting artist endowment he established,” said James Stark, associate professor of art. “It’s hard to imagine the art department’s functioning at the level that it does without his support.” Katharine Krebs, director of international programs, said Rosefsky’s contributions have had a powerful impact on the strength of the University’s study abroad programs as well as on individual students. “He set a very high educational standard for the study abroad programs and it’s been a vehicle for us to promote and encourage such study that’s so important for students,” Krebs said. “His expectation was that students wouldn’t simply dabble in foreign language and get a modicum of skill, but that they would truly master the language and understand its relationship to culture and they would bring that knowledge into their lives in the future.

“Part of the program was that they were to report back to him. He invited their sense of responsibility and that it was a portion of their education that was intended to lead them toward the fulfillment of other personal goals. We were very fortunate to have that kind of personal involvement from him,” she said.

As chair of the Rosefsky Scholarship Committee since its inception nearly 18 years ago, Ellen Badger, director of international student and scholar services, got to know Rosefsky. “In that time, his scholarship has been awarded to 213 outstanding Binghamton University students who share his vision of world peace through language study, travel and understanding cultural differences,” she said. “These students’ lives have been transformed through the opportunity that Dr. Rosefsky has given to them. And while we can talk about the 213 students who have been touched by Dr. Rosefsky to date, there will be many, many more than that over time who will continue to have their lives transformed.

“He was ahead of the curve because of his own personal exper-iences and I think the blessing here is that Dr. Rosefsky lived to see his vision fulfilled many, many times over,” Badger added. Rosefsky is survived by two sons and a daughter. A celebration of his life will be announced at a future date. Memorial contri-butions may be made in his name to a charity of one’s choice.
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Last Updated: 10/14/08