To whom it may concern,
Since Professor Povitz arrived at Middlebury, she has engaged students in the classroom, offered valuable mentorship, and fostered a vibrant Jewish community on campus. Working within a student body population that represents a significant number of Jewish-identifying students, she has provided a haven for us to explore our history, heritage, and connections to social movements for change. We think her arrival couldn’t have been more perfectly timed, coinciding with rising anti-Semitism across the United States, including the 2018 Pittsburgh Synagogue shooting and, more recently, the Colleyville Synagogue hostage crisis.
Through her coursework, such as in History of Radicalism, History of Urban Food Activism, Modern American Jewish History, Black and Jewish Feminist Perspectives, and History of Gender, Sexuality, and Psychiatry, Jewish students have found positive role models and roadmaps for leadership in our own futures in a moment marked by fear and uncertainty for the Jewish community. Professor Povitz has also fostered an inclusive space for secular Jewish students and interfaith students who have not previously connected with their Jewish background or the sole recognized Jewish space on campus, Hillel. During the peak of the pandemic, when stress, loneliness, and other challenges to our mental health were more rampant than ever, Professor Povitz offered her Sunday afternoons as a space of community and reflection through her outdoor Torah study group in Spring of 2021.
Her office hours are known for being open not only to her current and past students, but to all those seeking guidance. This form of active mentorship has helped us reimagine Jewish studies at Middlebury, and has drawn the interests of students who never would have thought to take a course in either Jewish Studies or the History Department. We think it is especially important to note her intersectional approach to teaching and mentorship. Professor Povitz makes an active effort to affirm students in their identities and ensures we feel safe and supported in her classroom and office hours.
Ultimately, Professor Povitz plays an essential role on our campus, engaging students of all backgrounds and perspectives, offering invaluable leadership, and providing spaces inside and outside of the classroom for reflection and connection to heritage and community. It would be a detrimental and irreplaceable loss to Middlebury’s Jewish community if Professor Povitz were to leave. We strongly urge the administration to take immediate action to retain her by offering her a tenure-track position.
Jewish Students of Middlebury in Support of Professor Lana Povitz