Binghamton University Shakespeare class brings dad full circle
Associate Professor Alvin Vos had a secret student in his Shakespeare class this spring.
Mitch Schonfeld ’77 audited the same class his daughter, Rose Schonfeld ’18, was taking — but he didn’t tell her until the semester was well underway.
Mitch is no stranger to Shakespeare; he took the class with Vos in 1976 and thought it would be fun to revisit it and then surprise his daughter. With permission and some technical help, Mitch was able to get the lecture notes and do the assignments online.
Two months into the semester, Mitch finally let Rose in on his ruse. He was coming to Binghamton from New Jersey to physically attend a class lecture. But he didn’t want her to be self-conscious in front of the smaller discussion group.
“Your friends would say, ‘What’s this old guy doing here?’ It would be awkward for you,” he told her.
“It’s cool we had the same class 40 years apart and also together. He’s lucky. He enjoys this without the pressure of being graded,” Rose Schonfeld said after getting a paper back and sneaking peeks at the comments when Dad wasn’t looking.
Mitch didn’t get a free pass. Like everyone else, he read seven plays and wrote a five-page essay after each one.
“It’s great to be here,” Mitch says. “I’ve enjoyed the readings, but what was missing was the flavor you get when you hear what the students are saying.”
“This is a very proud moment for me because it’s all about convergence,” Vos says. “Mitch connected Rose with me. She lives in Hinman as Mitch had in the ’70s, they both had me for three classes, and she’s very involved with Hinman Production Company.” In fact, Rose directed the spring musical.
Father and daughter also have similar career interests. Mitch is president and CEO of Bergen Family Center, a human services agency. Rose wants to be a licensed social worker.
“Al talks about convergence. This is like a convergence for my English career and professional life in social services,” Mitch says. “I toyed with psychology and philosophy, but English appealed to me because it touched those areas in a way that was so much more fun. We’re talking about the same issues, like human behavior and the meaning of life. I love seeing Rose and the other students interact with the material in the same way I did.”