By Paul Mullin
With the gaping hole left by the sudden death of the beloved and renowned Dr. David Rebovich last fall, Rider was faced with the task of finding someone to step into his dual role of professor and director of the Rider Institute for New Jersey Politics.
The search committee in charge of this task believes that it has found the man for the job in Ben Dworkin, who plans to carry on Rebovich’s tradition of excellence in politics by “making the institute the leading place to be trained for political life.”
“I think the institute should be the preeminent place for students to access internships and jobs, engage in thoughtful research on campaigns, government and politics, and network with political professionals,” Dworkin said. “Whether you work on a campaign, lobby for a cause or serve on staff to an elected official, being involved with the institute should prepare you to succeed.”
Rebovich suffered a heart attack during one of his morning classes and was pronounced dead at Capital Health System–Fuld Campus in Trenton on Oct. 12, 2007.
“You cannot replace David Rebovich,” Dworkin said. “He was the gold standard in offering political commentary and a beloved and gifted educator. You can only hope to succeed him and to build on his legacy in a way that brings honor to his name and pride to those who knew him.”
The university will be honoring the late professor’s memory by renaming the institute after him. The Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics, as it will be officially known after a ceremony in September, will seek to carry on Rebovich’s vision.
According to Dworkin, it was this vision that most attracted him to the job.
“The Rider Institute for New Jersey Politics has a tremendous reputation, largely because of the extraordinary work by David Rebovich,” Dworkin said. “So any chance to be a part of this operation is very exciting.
“In addition, the position itself combines a lot of what I have done in my career. I’ve worked on campaigns and elections. I have experience in policy and government. I spent several years in public relations, and I have taught a number of college classes and presented my academic research at conferences. The idea that I could bring all of these elements together in one job was very appealing.”
Dworkin hopes that his experience and his list of contacts, “on both sides of the aisle,” will help students find their niche in the political world.
“I think we can produce a real guidebook of available internships and bring in speakers for all kinds of events,” he said.
According to Dworkin, the upcoming presidential election makes it an exciting time to lead the institute.
“I hope that we can engage the students in this critical election by registering to vote and learning about how the candidates’ stands on the issues will impact their lives and futures,” he said.
His own political positions will have no bearing on his leadership of the institute, Dworkin said.
“Despite my partisan background, I am absolutely confident I can help guide the institute,” he said. “First of all, I am the kind of Democrat who has no problem criticizing other Democrats when they do something wrong. If you make a bonehead move, then it makes little sense to ignore it.”
Dworkin will be teaching New Jersey Politics in the spring, a class he taught at Rutgers University while pursuing his Ph.D. in political science, a process he will continue while working at Rider.
“I am very excited to engage Rider students in the classroom, and to help them understand the dynamics of the full contact sport that we call ‘New Jersey Politics,’” Dworkin said.