14th of January 2012 / Serving Oregon & Southwest Washington since 1959

Lewis and Clark College’s Glassner holds special place as Jewish scholar

By AMY R KAUFMAN

article created on: 2010-12-01T00:00:00

Barry Glassner’s name may sound familiar.

The new president of Lewis and Clark College is the author of the national best seller “The Culture of Fear: Why Americans Are Afraid of the Wrong Things,” released in 1999 and revised in 2010 to reflect issues since 9/11.

Glassner holds a special place in Jewish scholarship as founding director of the Casden Institute for the Study of the Jewish Role in American Life, the first scholarly institute dedicated to the study of contemporary Jewish life in the western United States. Established in 1998 at the University of Southern California, the Institute publishes the work of leading Jewish thinkers in “The Jewish Role in American Life: An Annual Review.”

He has appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show, Nightline, other major TV shows and on CNN, CNBC, MSNBC and other news programs.

His articles and commentaries have been published in The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times. He is a sociologist whose
research has been published in leading academic journals.

And that’s just the short list.

Glassner, who had served as executive vice provost of USC since 2005, took the helm at Lewis and Clark on Oct. 28.

“The history, the size and the high level of engagement of the Portland Jewish community was a big attraction for me and for my wife,” he said.

Glassner noted that many of the faculty, staff and students of Lewis and Clark are involved in Jewish studies and engaged with the new Portland-area Hillel.

He said he has focused on issues of prejudice and discrimination throughout his career.

“I grew up in Roanoke, Virginia, and there was a considerable amount of prejudice and anti-Semitism that I grew up with,” he said. “So, I’m very concerned about those kinds of issues, not only for us but for many groups.

“In a college or university what we do best is research, scholarship and teaching, and I think it’s very consistent with Jewish tradition and Jewish history that learning and teaching is the way to move forward on all sorts of problems, including issues of discrimination and prejudice.”

Glassner described the Lewis and Clark faculty as “very accomplished, very prominent in their fields and, at the same time, uncommonly engaged with the students in a way that you find in very few places.”

He said he was also attracted to Lewis and Clark by the unique possibilities inherent in the constellation of three schools—the College of Arts and Sciences, Graduate School of Education and Counseling, and the Law School.

“Another attraction,” Glassner said, “is the sheer beauty of the place. This year Princeton Review named Lewis and Clark the second most beautiful campus in America.”

In addition to “Culture of Fear,” Glassner is author or co-author of nine other books. He is the author of “Drugs in Adolescent Worlds,” which Choice named outstanding book of the year. In “The Gospel of Food,” Glassner dispels much of America’s conventional wisdom about food.

In the updated edition of “Culture of Fear,” Glassner shows how people and organizations manipulate Americans’ perceptions to profit from their fears about crime, drug use and terrorism.

The author and his views were featured prominently in director Michael Moore’s 2002 Academy Award-winning film “Bowling for Columbine,” which explores possible causes for the Columbine High School massacre and other acts of violence with guns.

Glassner was a professor of sociology on the USC faculty and chairman of the sociology department before becoming executive vice provost. He received USC’s highest research award, the Associates Award for Creativity in Research, as well as the Phi Kappa Phi Faculty Recognition Award.

Early in his career, Glassner led the sociology departments of Syracuse University and the University of Connecticut. He received his master’s and doctoral degrees from Washington University in St. Louis.

Glassner has served as the elected chair of one of the largest sections of the American Sociological Association and as a fellow of the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities.

In a Nov. 7 guest column in The Oregonian, Glassner called upon his “new neighbors” to recognize that Oregon’s private colleges, including Lewis and Clark, make a tremendous contribution to the economy by providing “not only some of the best education in the region…but also many of the state’s jobs, businesses and talent pools.”

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