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University celebrates life of Richard Antoun

The campus community paid tribute to Richard Antoun during a ceremony Feb. 26 in the Anderson Center’s Chamber Hall.

“He exemplified the University’s commitment to global scholarship and understanding,” President Lois B. DeFleur said of Antoun, a professor emeritus of anthropology who was stabbed to death on campus Dec. 4. “He was dedicated to the peaceful resolution of conflict and his scholarship embraced a broad range of subjects.”

Antoun joined the University in 1970, retired in 1999 and served as a Bartle Professor until 2002. The celebration of his life drew University officials, faculty members and former students to the Chamber Hall. Several of Antoun’s former colleagues and students discussed his work in sociocultural anthropology, his love for the Boston Red Sox and his ability to turn strangers into friends.

“As a member of the Binghamton University community for nearly 40 years, Professor Antoun influenced an entire generation of graduate and undergraduate students,” DeFleur said. “He was deeply committed to his students and he enjoyed listening and talking with them.”

Antoun’s widow, Roz, also spoke at the ceremony and emphasized that her husband was always learning from his students.

“The students energized him, educated him and brought new thinking and ideas to his world,” she said. “Their interests and passions became his.”

Those students were just one element that made Binghamton University a “home away from home” for Antoun, Roz Antoun said.

“He was so comfortable on this campus, surrounded by the halls of learning, the beautiful mountains, the energy of youth, the controversial discussions and the vibrant growth,” she said.

Antoun especially enjoyed  having lunch with friends and colleagues in the Susquehanna Room, she said. It was there that Antoun often reached out to strangers and newcomers on campus.

“He extended himself to them because he had the experience of being a stranger in a foreign land during his field work and he wanted to help them like he had been helped,” Roz Antoun said.

DeFleur recalled how welcome Antoun made her feel when she arrived on campus, adding that he would always deliver an inscribed copy of his latest book to her.

“I felt very honored to know him,” she said. “I could tell how deeply he appreciated his time here at Binghamton.”

An eastern redbud tree will be planted this spring in memory of Antoun near his office at the Science 1 complex, DeFleur said.

“This tree typically has a low, divided trunk and broad, spreading branches,” she said. “This is reflective of Dick Antoun’s broad understanding of multiple cultures and his commitment to the spreading of knowledge and world peace.”

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Last Updated: 10/14/08