ARCHIVED: Ray Seidelman Remembered

Ray Seidelman

Memorial Service for Ray Seidelman

Join the Sarah Lawrence community in remembering politics faculty member Ray Seidelman.

Saturday, November 17 
2 p.m.
Reisinger Concert Hall

Raymond Seidelman, member of the Sarah Lawrence College politics faculty for 25 years, died October 30 from complications due to cancer. A teacher devoted to his students and colleagues, he will be remembered for his passionate commitment to democracy and to social justice. In a message to the College community, Pauline Watts, Dean of the College, said: “Ray fought fiercely, eloquently, and practically for human rights, locally and nationally.”

A central figure on the social science faculty, Seidelman’s teaching focused on political participation in the United States as well as social movements, media and the political geography of cities and suburbs. He held the Sara Yates Exley Chair in Teaching Excellence, and, in 2002, won the College’s Lipkin Prize for Inspirational Teaching.

Komozi Woodard, a long time colleague and member of the history faculty, said of Seidelman: “He is known as a teacher linking theory with practice, intellectual development with public-service learning, and political theory with the duties and responsibilities of citizenship.

“Ray was an award-winning teacher at a school devoted to teachers. But even by those standards, Ray stood tall. If you listen to his students, they will tell you that studying with Professor Seidelman was a life-changing experience. After they discussed the issues and concepts raised by a number of books they read with Ray, they would go on to identify a number of political actions, marches and campaigns that they worked on,” said Woodard.

“Ray was a magnificent teacher, the rare kind who made students want to work and make a difference intellectually and practically,” said Michele Tolela Myers, president emerita. “He encouraged risk taking, respected everyone's views, and modeled an intelligent and passionate commitment to economic and social justice. His legacy is in the work of his students and colleagues, whom he continually inspired to work for equality and democracy in mainstream politics as well as in social movements.”

Ray Seidelman was the author of  Disenchanted Realists: Political Science and the American Crisis; co-author, The Democratic Debate: An Introduction to American Politics (four editions); co-editor, Debating Democracy: A Reader in American Politics (five editions), and Discipline and History: Political Science in the United States. He was a contributor to American Political Science Review, Comparative Politics, and other journals. A graduate of the University of California-Santa Cruz, he earned his M.A. and Ph.D. at Cornell University. Seidelman was senior fellow, Rockefeller Institute of Government (1986-1987); visiting professor, Johns Hopkins-Nanjing University Center for Chinese and American Studies (1987-1988); visiting professor, Yale University (1991); and a Fulbright senior lecturer, Seoul, South Korea (1992-1993).

The College community extends its deep condolences to Ray’s wife, Fay, and daughters, Eva and Rosa. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, November 17 in Reisinger Concert Hall at 2 p.m.. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Raymond Seidelman Award for Political Advocacy and sent to the College’s Office of College Resources.