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

History Department and Advising

In the short time that I’ve known her, Professor Povitz has already proven to be one of the most engaging, genuine, and intelligent Professors on this campus. She cares deeply about her work, which makes learning from her so much more fulfilling and valuable. She teaches history in a way that inspires students to look carefully at the past and present in order to shape a future. She is truly invaluable to the History department and the college as a whole. We must keep Professor Povitz.

Sade Awodesu CO 2025

Building Jewish Community, History Department and Advising, Supporting Queer Students

Professor Povitz was my first advisor and a vital piece to the beginning of my Middlebury experience. She is an engaging, powerful professor, both because of her humor and personality and the identities she holds. She is an essential asset to Middlebury and especially to the Jewish and queer communities, and it would be a real loss to the community at large if we lost her expertise and her energy.

Building Jewish Community, History Department and Advising

I write in support of the hire of Professor Lana Povitz. I had the pleasure of taking her courses on the History of US Radicalism and on Gender Sexuality and Psychiatry. Both of these classes had some of the best syllabi I have encountered at Middlebury, in terms of their thoughtfulness, their course content, and her judicious appraisal of the right amount of coursework. She possess a refined grasp of the narrative arc of the semester and how each week contributes a distinctive element with coherent and connected content and readings. She also hands out a guide to reading strategically for students who are new to history courses. It helps them learn how to prioritize the main concepts in the reading, understand that they do not need to read every last word, and guides them in taking effective notes. Professor Povitz is incredibly intentional in her history classes in providing foundational readings that ground us in the time periods we study such as The God that Failed by Richard Wright, and leading secondary sources that place it in a wider context from a contemporary perspective, such as the work of Robin DG Kelly. Through a combination of lectures, discussion, and weekly student presentations and discussion posts, Professor Povitz ensured that her entire class was actively participating and had a firm grounding in the important historical markers of the time period. She emphasizes discussions that confront the past while grappling with how it impacts our moment today. Professor Povitz is known for her intellectual capacity and her thorough knowledge of the source materials for all of the diverse classes she teaches. Her ability to lead in the classroom is self-evident. Her thoughtfulness and care for her students both inside and outside of the classroom distinguishes her at Middlebury. I have spent countless hours in her office hours while taking her classes and outside of her classes seeking her advice while working on other projects. I have witnessed how she has helped other students refine their ideas, and their work and watched her help them articulate their interests and passions. She helps students recognize that their ideas are valid. When they see connections between the historical examples they encounter through her courses and an imperative for action in the present, she assists them in clarifying their ideas and translating them into action. She has enriched the Middlebury community by helping students launch projects supporting social justice in the world. In addition to her excellent teaching, availability during office hours, and her support for students whose activism draws inspiration from her classroom, she also shows up and helps with many other student efforts. For example, last spring I sought a faculty partner who could join me in launching an informal program of Jewish text study. Professor Povitz worked with me to create a weekly text study that engaged students across all faith backgrounds. These students were often emotionally and spiritually burnt-out from the pandemic, and through text study we reinvigorated each other and provided a restorative space for the community. I am so grateful to have Professor Povitz at Middlebury and everything she does. It is my honor to recommend her hire at Middlebury.

History Department and Advising, Professor Povitz's Courses

I remember first taking a class with Professor Povitz freshmen year and being absolutely blown away by her grasp of the material, the way in which she engaged the class, and her astonishing intelligence. Since then Povitz has only grown in my mind as an incredible role model and friend. I do research with her that is both engaging and cutting edge. I do not know what Middlebury would be for me without Povitz, but I imagine it would be a lot less interesting, joyful, and challenging. Povitz has pushed me to grasp material in more nuanced ways, both encouraging me while helping me receive my full potential. Povitz is a gem of this community and I think Middlebury would be doing itself a great disservice to not recognize her for what she truly is: a cornerstone to the Jewish studies department and an incredible human and scholar.

History Department and Advising, Professor Povitz's Courses

Dear Administration, In the fall of 2019, as I began to finish up my college search process, Middlebury trended towards the top of the pack. Still though, my parents thought I should sit in on a class before applying Early Decision to a school so far away. After combing damn near the entire catalog, searching for what I thought would interest me the most, Professor Povitz was one of the two people I reached out to. She was teaching a class called History of US Radicalism, which sounded right up my alley. I was then happy and excited to see I had gotten an email back that I was welcomed to the class. Excitement turned to apprehension as the day drew nearer. Had I really just decided to waltz into a 3-hour discussion seminar for college students? And I had to do the reading? And I had to find something called LaForce Hall? (That’s not LaForce! That’s Ross! Oh, I guess it’s LaForce.) Anyways, the day finally arrived, and believe it or not I did do the reading, and I managed to find Laforce Hall, and I managed to waltz into class. Still, the being in class part is probably what scared me the most, I had sat in on my other class earlier that day, and wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. But, when Professor Povitz and the other students walked in, I immediately got caught up in it all. The content was full of things I had never heard of, all of which I wanted to know more about. The discussion was stimulating and kept me engaged. Most incredibly of all, when you needed to go to the bathroom, you didn’t have to ask! At the center of it all, though at the same time managing to stay in the periphery, was Professor Povitz, who moderated and pushed forward the discussion so well three hours felt like half of one. The solitary, unconfident move by myself to say something during the entire class was immediately noticed by Professor Povitz, who encouraged me to share. She took my idea seriously, and we included it in the discussion going forward. As a high school senior unaccustomed to having these sorts of academic discussions, it meant the world to me. When I left the class, more than anything I wanted more of that. I went home and applied Early Decision to Middlebury College. I’m here now (History Major! Class of ’24!). Last semester I took Modern American Jewish History with Professor Povitz. It was surreal to find myself back in class with the professor who for me had meant Middlebury to me before I even really knew Middlebury. It was everything I had wanted and more. Professor Povitz is the kind of professor who is keenly aware of students’ needs. Week by week, the class followed a strong and reasonable arc. As a faculty member, her classes deal with issues not touched on often enough. As a lecturer, she knows students’ limits, and works to keep them engaged. As a discussion leader, she knows how to challenge and push a class to formulate its thoughts. As a human, she is kind and empathetic. That last point truly is central to my understanding of her. Still though, I haven’t gotten the opportunity to take History of US Radicalism beyond that single class. I would really love the chance to do that. -Ewan Inglis ’24 PS. I had Professor Ayoub over J-Term and I learned a truly mind boggling amount of Arabic. That class was one of the most enriching and amazing educational experiences I’ve ever had! I loved it!

History Department and Advising, Professor Povitz's Courses, Supporting Queer Students

Professor Povitz has been one of my favorite professors I’ve had in my 4 years at Middlebury. I think I learned the most in her course out of all my courses. Professor Povitz is frankly incredible and I think it’s absurd that Middlebury hasn’t offered her tenure. She treats her students like capable adults and holds us to a high standard, which is effective in showing us what we are able to achieve. Most importantly Professor Povitz holds space for groups of marginalized groups of students on campus and I think plays an essential role in the history department of expanding who’s history we are teaching. It would deeply sadden me if Midd were to loose a person as important as Povitz to making campus a progressive and inclusive space.

History Department and Advising, Professor Povitz's Courses

I am fortunate enough to have had Professor Povitz as my professor twice and, most recently, as my thesis advisor. My experiences working with and learning from Professor Povitz have been nothing short of outstanding, and I cannot recommend her as a professor and advisor enough. The two classes I took with her––History of Urban Food Activism and History of U.S. Radicalism––stand out as some of my favorite classes I took over the course of my Middlebury College career. Not only does she know so much about her field, her passion for it is exceptionally evident and contagious. This wealth of knowledge and passion is reflected in the way she masterfully plans her courses. Her syllabi are well thought out and expertly layered so that all of the material feels connected, grounded, and relevant. She also regularly asks for feedback from her students to improve their experiences. As a student, I felt like my perspective and comfort in the classroom mattered, which made it so accessible to actively participate in her classes. In addition to crafting great classes, Professor Povitz successfully builds and leads a classroom environment. Her class on U.S. radicalism remains my favorite class of college. In this seminar, I felt that the class was a community of learners, cultivated by the way Professor Povitz introduced classroom expectations and sustained the classroom over the course of the semester. She facilitated conversations that were fruitful and enriching, offering her own expertise while continuing to let us be the leaders of our own learning. Professor Povitz has high expectations for her students, which was evident from the first class I had with her. These expectations elevated the rigor of the classroom. They have also encouraged me to believe in my own work and capacity more deeply, particularly through the process of writing my senior thesis. As my advisor, Professor Povitz has been the most incredible advocate and resource for my project. She has helped direct me to pertinent sources and lines of scholarship, while being available to listen to me think outload during our thesis meetings––which pass quickly because of the quality and depth of conversation. She even connected me with one of her contacts and a prominent scholar in the field of my thesis, which allowed me to interview the author for my project. Her comments on my writing are always detailed, thorough, and constructive, and she asks questions that push my project forward. I know that my thesis would not be the same without her guidance and support, and I could not be more grateful to have her as my advisor. I have nothing but good things to say about Professor Povitz. She has shaped my experience at Middlebury for the better. I have learned so much from her scholarship and ways of thinking. She is a true asset to her students, the classroom, and this college.

Building Jewish Community, History Department and Advising, Professor Povitz's Courses

To Whom it May Concern: Professor Lana Povitz embodies the promises that Middlebury makes to it’s students in her contributions to academic content that emphasizes diverse perspectives, her commitment to soliciting feedback from students to ensure that her teaching methods meet their needs and her engagement with the Middlebury community. To this first point, Prof. Povitz teaches courses on radical social movements, Jewish life, mental health, food studies, and queerness as well as historical methods. Middlebury has made numerous promises over the years to improve curricula to better represent scholarship and experiences from minoritized groups, a task that has often fallen to the labor of professors of color. Prof. Povitz does this work already. She also teaches cross-listed courses in two departments on campus that are increasingly popular, but sorely lacking in faculty: Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies and Food Studies. Losing Professor Povitz would not just be to the detriment of the History department, but to these departments as well. Finally, Prof. Povitz teaches history courses that are exciting and engaging to students who are not history majors, often will long waitlists for her classes. Study across disciplines is one of the tenets of a liberal arts education and losing a professor who builds bridges for students would be deeply counterproductive. Secondly, Professor Povitz takes not just the subject of her work seriously, but her teaching style is of great importance to her too. In all of the classes I have taken with Professor Povitz, she has genuinely wanted to know how students responded to her pedagogical choices and would make adjustments based on feedback. In my experience at Midd, this is a rarity, with most professors waiting for feedback until course response forms, at which point it is too late to change the learning experience of the current class. She has an uncanny ability to facilitate a unified classroom culture, with students connecting with each other across class years and personal backgrounds to learn together. Even when I was not Prof. Povitz’s student but would spend time with her as a mentor, she would talk to me about the classes that she was planning and ask for my opinion about what my peers would be most likely to respond to. In this way, Lana Povitz is not just a brilliant historian, but a dedicated professor. Finally, it is likely that if Middlebury does not keep Professor Povitz, they will also lose her partner, Professor Dima Ayoub. In addition to the knowledge that Middlebury will forfeiting if these two beloved professors leave, it will also miss the ways that they contribute to culture and student life outside of the classroom. Unlike some of their colleagues, these are two professors who deeply want to be at Middlebury and show their commitment through engagement: hosting events for students, attending events with Middlebury Hillel and hosting a Torah study, engaging in academic projects with students, and truly getting to know us as people by making time to have meaningful conversations during office hours and over coffee. Personally, I feel like knowing and learning from Professor Povitz has significantly shaped my experience at Middlebury. It saddens me deeply to think that future Middlebury students will not have the chance to grow as scholars and people from her support. Losing both Professor Ayoub and Professor Povitz would leave a consequential hole in the Middlebury community. Sincerely, Grace Weissman

History Department and Advising, Professor Povitz's Courses

I absolutely loved Prof Povitz’s History of Sexuality class I took last spring. It was a hybrid model class and we only met in person a few times, but it was one of the classes I felt most connected to the other students because of the unique community Prof Povitz fostered. I am normally a pretty shy student, but I always felt really comfortable sharing my ideas in her class. She also was so flexible in assignments while still making sure they were academically challenging and rigorous. Her lesson plans were so unique; with different formats each week, classes were always exciting and engaging. Prof Povitz is definitely one of if not my top favorite professors I had at Midd. She brings so much to both to History and GSFS department, she absolutely deserves tenure and partner hire!

History Department and Advising, Supporting Queer Students

I have not had Professor Povitz for any courses at Middlebury College. However, I am a history major and I am highly interested in taking her courses during my time at Middlebury. I was quite appalled to hear that she has not been offered partner hire despite having a partner who is also professor. What message does this send from the administration to all LGBTQIA+ individuals on this campus. Maybe we should focus on keeping important professors here and improving our community, rather inviting eugenicists (ie. Charles Murray) to speak and spread hate on this campus. Therefore, I am writing this letter on behalf of all history majors and all members of marginalized who are in my life. This action by the administration will not be ignored.

History Department and Advising, Professor Povitz's Courses

Professor Povitz has encouraged me in more ways than can be put into words to take advantage of my education and advocate for myself. As my first year advisor, she has given me tools to better my writing, to navigate the difficulties of adjusting to thus new environment, AND has helped me find my voice in the classroom. Never have I encountered a professor who genuinely wants to connect and hear students in the way Povitz does. She is a wonderful and caring professor, with a deep love for her career and middlebury. Povitz is a valued member of this community and it is important for Middlebury as an institution to recognize this. Without Povitz, many students who share intersections of their identity with hers (like myself) will lose an important role model and educator that influences students lives for the better. She has so much to offer to this community and letting her go would be a massive mistake.