Building Jewish Community, Supporting Queer Students

Although I have not interacted with her personally, I have heard of a class she taught last semester called Modern American Jewish History from one of my close friends. He told me it was an incredible class, with lots of great readings and discussions. As such, I was hoping to take it (or at the very least, a class with Professor Povitz) in future semesters. Otherwise, as a Jewish and Queer-curious/questioning student, it is important to me that the faculty at Middlebury reflect and legitimize my identity. I believe that Professor Povitz greatly enriches Middlebury’s academics, and that she would thus be a great loss if she were to leave. 

Sydney Alexander 2025


When I was struggling with mental health in my junior year, Professor Povitz saw me aimlessly wandering down the history hallway and invited me into her office even though we had only met once or twice and I had never taken a class with her. She let me sit in her office to just take a breath and didn’t make a big deal out of the whole thing. She continued working on her laptop, let me sit in silence, and offered me a chocolate bar. An entire chocolate bar!!!!!! This small act of kindness was one of the few highlights of the roughest month I’ve ever experienced at Middlebury, and I imagine that students that get to interact with her in a larger capacity benefit from her presence even more. What would Middlebury be without her kindness and brilliance? 

Pim Singhatiraj ‘21.5

Building Jewish Community

Professor Povitz has been a welcoming and enriching part of my time at Middlebury.
Last semester she facilitated a text study where we examined and discussed weekly portions of Hebrew scripture. I had very little knowledge of biblical texts and Jewish tradition beforehand. I am grateful Professor Povitz created an inclusive interfaith space to engage with the material. Every weekend, she took time to meet with us and help us learn and connect outside the classroom.

Charlotte Zehnder 2022.5

Professor Povitz's Courses

Professor Povitz was my first professor at Middlebury. I say the first because, although I had 3 other professors at the same time, she is the professor who takes you in and makes you feel seen. She doesn’t just impart knowledge or wisdom–she enters into relationship with every class and student she has. It must be exhausting work; I think every student who has had the opportunity to take Povitz’s class will understand how she raises the bar of commitment as a professor to an almost superhuman standard. She understands that the work of a college professor is a triple bottom line: it is not only to produce scholarly work, not even just to teach (although she does a hell of a lot more of that than the average professor) but to engage in community. To nurture it, to make it more whole than when she started. She has been one of the most successful professors in my estimation and experience when it comes to these three facets of a professor’s work. 

Connor Wertz ’22


Professor Povitz is more than just a teacher, she’s a role model to many students across the Middlebury community. Students look up to her because she cares about people, building community, as well as her academic work. Additionally, I have had the pleasure of working alongside Professor Povitz in the Project Based Learning community where she consistently demonstrates her openness to continuous learning and pedagogical improvement. I hope Professor Povitz will be teaching at Middlebury for many years to come. 

Kathlyn Gehl 2021.5 

Building Jewish Community, Professor Povitz's Courses

I had Prof. Povitz for one semester last spring for her History of U.S. Sexuality course. During this course, I realized that Prof. Povitz is one of the best professors that I have had at Middlebury. One of her greatest strengths is leading lectures and discussions. Our course was divided into a lecture/discussion format and this format worked incredibly well at engaging a very large class on some very difficult subjects. Prof. Povitz created lectures that were highly informative, organized, easy to follow, and engaging. Our discussions were led masterfully. Oftentimes, discussions, especially in similar courses, tend to be taken over by those who are most outspoken. Prof. Povitz had a unique approach to ensuring that all voices were heard in class, even though it was a class of almost 30 people. Due to her ability to engage us in discussion and lead them efficiently and efficaciously, this was one of the more useful discussion sections I have experienced during my four years here. 
Furthermore, Prof. Povitz is clearly a master of her subject area. She handled questions both in and out of class with such depth and clarity that I rarely had any confusion with any questions I brought forward. Not only was Prof. Povitz incredibly approachable and available outside of class, she went above and beyond to ensure that we had ample opportunity for clarification and further engagement around the topics we discussed in class. I can honestly say that she is one of the best professors I have interacted with in terms of ability to answer questions thoroughly. Even more importantly to me, no question was ever too silly to ask and she always spent the time necessary to provide further materials and to then circle back and engage with those materials. 
My final point that I would like to bring up for Prof. Povitz is her engagement with students outside of class to further our personal and academic development. Prof. Povitz organized a weekly Torah study class last spring that allowed for an exploration of Judaism. I know that Prof. Povitz teaches courses in Jewish history, and although this was not one of those classes, her organization and facilitation of this group was a truly unique opportunity. I have yet to encounter another professor who actively sought to engage with students outside of the scope of a course in such a meaningful way. One of the things that drew me to Middlebury in the first place was the ability to engage with professors in unique ways both inside and outside of class. While this has not always been my experience, it is clear with Prof. Povitz that she cares deeply about her students. I think her organization of this group concretely demonstrates this commitment. Experiences such as these make Middlebury such a special place and without professors like Prof. Povitz, this will not continue to be the case. Through our course as well as through this Torah study, Prof. Povitz pushes her students to really engage with what we are learning. She furthermore allows us to have space to explore important aspects of life such as spirituality and use teachings from such important texts as the Torah to look critically at our world and the space we hold in it. Not only did her course push me to advance my understanding of power and oppression, but our Torah study group also pushed me to critique and explore my spiritual background and future journey. 
I cannot emphasize enough how great of an asset Prof. Povitz is to Middlebury. She is a masterful teacher and a rare professor who truly goes above and beyond to advance our lives. As a teacher, she is incredibly effective and presents us with difficult topics in a way that is digestible and engaging. As a mentor, she brings a breadth of life experience and wisdom that is incredibly informative and helpful in our personal and academic development. I sincerely hope that future classes of Middlebury students will have the opportunity to learn from Prof. Povitz as she is one of the greatest professors I have had at this school. I feel it is also important to say that I am a Psychology student and was genuinely not excited about her class going into it (I took it as a requirement for my minor) but after taking her course, I wish I had time in my schedule to take further courses with her as I learned more in her course and had my worldview challenged to a greater degree than in most of my other courses at Middlebury. 


Liam Hahn
Class of 2021.5

Liam Hahn, 2021.5

Professor Povitz's Courses

I took Prof. Povitz’s History of U.S. Radicalism course my second semester at Middlebury; even now in my senior year, I consider it one of the top three classes I’ve ever taken. The atmosphere of the course was unlike any other I’d taken; I’ve never been in an environment where everyone felt more comfortable to explore new ideas, take intellectual risks, and build off of each other’s thoughts. It was definitely the only three hour seminar I’ve ever taken where students would get so caught up in the material we’d nearly forget to take the scheduled break. (Even more notable for being a night class!) And it was the only class I’ve ever taken where I genuinely looked forward to reading and writing discussion posts: it was great to spend the ensuing days continuing the conversations we’d have in class and have an avenue to thank someone for making a great point and changing your thinking. I actually felt like I was in a real community with my classmates. Prof. Povitz made that kind of very special intellectual environment possible, which was all the more meaningful for the many of us who came to class with perspectives and/or backgrounds that otherwise guarantee a degree of isolation on Middlebury’s campus. I felt intellectually nourished and spiritually at home in that course in a way that’s very rare. At the same time, Prof. Povitz’s course constantly challenged my perspective on social movements and social change, and made me engage with history and politics in a far more rigorous way. I’m very lucky to have had that experience and I think future Middlebury students should have the chance to have it as well. 

Caitlin Barr 22.5

Professor Povitz's Courses

Professor Povitz’s classes are exciting and engaging. I often left class still thinking about the points that she raised. Professor Povitz’s comments on my assignments were the best I received from any professor. Not only was it clear that Povitz had read my assignment, but she also offered both criticism and opportunities for further reading. No one else has done that for me in my 4 years at Midd! 

Professor Povitz's Courses

I took Professor Povitz’s History of U.S. Radicalism class in the fall of 2019 on a whim. I didn’t expect to enjoy the class as much as I did, but it was one of my favorite classes that I ever took at Middlebury. Prof. Povitz doesn’t lecture in the traditional way, which is what I had expected of a history class, but rather she creates a really open yet rigorous discussion space and taught us how to be better learners, in addition to, of course, the course content. Two years later, I still regularly use the frameworks she taught me to think about the impacts, influences, and legacies of social movements. In class, we were encouraged to think of good questions and to be curious and honest rather than eloquent, and to treat the class like a community with common standards and dreams. She was always extremely supportive and dedicated inside and outside the classroom, always being willing to give advice in office hours on any topic, even lending me books that she thought I would find interesting (which, of course, they were). She made her own course survey at the end of the semester, saving time for us to discuss in person what we most enjoyed and what we felt could have been better, a rare ask from a Middlebury professor. In spring 2020, I took another course with her. In the face of the pandemic, she created a survey asking what we needed most and sent us two playlists. She instituted a letter writing practice, where we write a letter about our lives and the readings, to encourage us to stay connected in a more human way while still critically engaging with the course content. When on campus, if I or any student mentioned an event that we were planning like a rally, a concert, a conference, or other event, she always came to support us with enthusiasm and deep care. I am so grateful to her for all that she taught me both when I was a student and after graduating as we have kept in touch since I left Middlebury. I know that all students who cross her path –in the classroom or outside of it–recognize the truly inspiring and passionate person that she is. Middlebury has already gained so much from her time as a visiting professor, that it would be a true loss to pass up this opportunity to offer her a tenure-track position. 

Cara Levine ’20

general, Professor Povitz's Courses

Professor Povitz is a wonderful professor. I had the opportunity to take “American Radicalism” with her last Spring (2021) and am currently enrolled in her class with Professor Mao on American Freedom. Not only is she an enthusiastic professor, who brings her own lived experience into the classroom, she also compiles GREAT syllabi. Readings from her class have stuck with me, and I think back to the important topics we covered often. I loved her selections so much that I started forward them to my dad, who read some of them with me and still recommends Professor Povitz’ selections to his own friends. 

As an individual, Professor Povitz is an example of kindness, generosity, and connection between the students and faculty. I was going through some intense personal challenges last Spring, and, upon receiving my Dean’s email, was the only professor I had that reached out to me to check in. She listened with patience and understanding and followed up later in the semester as well. It’s rare to find professors who take an active interest in their students the way Professor Povitz does. She is not afraid to initiate, support, and actively encourage her students.

Lastly, Professor Povitz is the club advisor to my aca pella group. She loves student activities on campus, and wants to be involved. She’s the only faculty/staff member to ever attend a performance in my four years at Midd. I cannot emphasize what an asset she is to the our small community, and Middlebury is at risk of loosing a beloved star professor

Alex Sipos, 2022

Building Jewish Community, Professor Povitz's Courses, Supporting Queer Students

Professor Povitz has made a tremendous impact on me during my time at Middlebury, as a professor and as a person. Her class “History of Urban Food Activism” provided me with context surrounding the history of fighting for equitable food systems and pushed me to think critically about whose voices were, and are, represented and heard in different spaces and at different times. Likewise, it taught me how, over the course of U.S. history, food activism has been utilized to foster community resilience. Through this course I was able to delve into a topic I am deeply passionate. Although I am a neuroscience major, Professor Povitz has brought me into the history department and I am looking forward to taking more of her classes in the future. 

Outside of class, Professor Povitz has made an impact on me through the essential roles she plays in the Jewish and queer communities on campus. During the height of the pandemic, Professor Povitz created a Torah study group for Jewish and non-Jewish students to gather in community and learn together (safely outside). In a time when antisemitism is pervasive on college campuses and in the U.S., it is imperative that Jewish students have spaces where they feel affirmed and have the opportunity to explore their identity and engage in Jewish traditions. In the queer community, Professor Povitz is a mentor and source of support for queer students. It is so essential that queer students have classes that center queerness and professors who share their identity. 

Overall, Professor Povitz has served as a mentor and a source of inspiration in my life and has touched the lives of many of my peers and friends. She plays a crucial role in teaching classes that serve student interests and teach critical thinking skills, as well as in the communities she is a part of. It would be a devastating loss to the Middlebury community if she were to leave. 

Remi Welbel, 2022.5

Building Jewish Community, general, Supporting Queer Students

To whom it may concern,
While I never had the chance to take a course with Professor Povitz, she played a formative role in my personal growth as a queer Jew while at Middlebury. She is thoughtful in ways most other professors are not. She has pushed me to think critically about the world and my place in it. For that I am grateful. It would be a grave mistake for Middlebury to not offer her a tenure track position.
Matt Martignoni

Matt Martignoni ‘21.5

History Department and Advising, Professor Povitz's Courses

Professor Povitz was my first professor at Middlebury, my FYS professor. Not only was she enthusiastic, caring and engaging in the class, but she was also there to help you with any personal challenges. In Freshman fall, the school seemed big and overwhelming. I remember dropping by her classroom in Axinn during the registration week in complete distraught. Professor Povitz sat me down, gave me a chocolate and began telling me all of her freshman college experiences. Immediately feeling more relaxed, she aided my registration process and it went smoothly. Not only was Professor Povitz an amazing teacher in all respects, but she cared so deeply for everyone in the class that we all agree it has been the best class we have taken at Midd so far! (Activism and the US AIDS crisis) 

Lucy Inkster, 2025 

History Department and Advising, Professor Povitz's Courses

Professor Povitz was my first-year seminar professor this past semester. I had a really difficult time adjusting to the academic structure of college. When I emailed Professor Povitz about planning out my first ever research paper, she met with me (along with several other students) at Haymaker in town. I felt like she cared so much about my personal progress and I learned so much from speaking with her. The whole journey of writing that paper was very stressful for me, and she gave me incredible feedback. She gave me confidence and made me feel like I was capable and smart. I am so grateful to her and hope that she is able to stay here to help other students grow. I would also love to take a history class with her again in the future. 

Hope Shue, Freshman