Rebovich legacy finds new home

by Jess Hoogendoorn

The name Rebovich belonged to a professor who loved the subject he taught and his students. Now this name, which is associated with numerous political sound bites, is emblazoned across the banner of an organization he helped create.
The dedication ceremony for the Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics was held Monday in the Bart Luedeke Center Theater to pay homage to the late Dr. David Rebovich, who devoted 28 years to the university. Family members, senators, assemblymen and women and many others who hold political offices attended the ceremony.
“New Jersey lost one of its brightest lights in David Rebovich,” Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) said. “For him, politics wasn’t about how to win an election, but how to make a difference.”
Rebovich’s contributions were substantial in many areas, said President Mordechai Rozanski, but his greatest contributions to society came from his teaching because he had an electric passion for politics that grabbed students’ attention.
“His students represent his greatest contribution,” he said. “They loved, respected and flocked to him.”
Ben Dworkin, the new director of the institute, plans to keep true to Rebovich’s goals of using the institute to further political understanding and encouraging people to become involved in their government. He praised Rebovich’s teaching and compassion.
“David Rebovich was a man who truly understood empathy and affection,” he said. “A man who ended all his classes with ‘I love you all.’”
Michael Hennessy, a member of the university’s Board of Trustees and a 1982 graduate of Rider, knew Rebovich both as a teacher and a friend. Hennessy was a donor to the Institute for New Jersey Politics in 2001 when the institute was newly founded. His teacher inspired much of his passion for politics.
Rebovich was one of the few people in New Jersey politics who was respected by both liberals and conservatives, said Hennessy. Both sides agreed he was a giant in politics.
Although Rebovich was known for his charisma in the classroom and in the news, the speakers, including his
daughter, Melissa Rebovich, reminded the audience of his personal side. She spoke about his packrat tendencies of having books and articles throughout the house and his rundowns of Rider basketball and wrestling standings.
Menendez shared an e-mail he knew Rebovich would have enjoyed. It asked the question, “Why did the chicken cross the road?” and gave possible answers of leading political figures.
“If you knew Dr. Rebovich, you knew him to have a sense of humor,” he said. “I know David is up there laughing with us and is probably coming up with better lines.”
With Rebovich’s philosophies and love for politics in mind, the institute will be geared toward preparing students to serve the public before they graduate. Construction of a new work area on the second floor of Fine Arts will double as an office for both Dworkin and the institute. It is expected to be completed by the end of October.
The Rebovich Fund will be available next summer to students pursuing political science internships. The details have yet to be finalized, said Dworkin.
The institute will remain true to its students and message by helping the misinformed understand politics. Dworkin explained that many people don’t understand how much politics affects their lives, but the goal of the institute is to combat that and teach students how to participate.
“David Rebovich was a general in this fight,” he said. “He educated everyone who would listen. And as great as he was, he was not alone. The Rebovich Institute will continue in our founder’s footsteps.”

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