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.
Class of 2021.5
Liam Hahn, 2021.5