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Vol.25, No. 14 Feb. 11, 2000

Joseph Rothschild, Expert on East Central Europe, Dead at 70

Joseph Rothschild, a professor of history and political science at Columbia for more than 40 years, died Jan. 30, at the age of 70.

An expert on European comparative politics, East Central European studies and ethnopolitics, Rothschild began his career at Columbia in 1955 as an instructor in the Government Department. He was considered by his colleagues to be one of the country's foremost experts on the history and politics of East Central Europe.

He was chair of the Department of Political Science from 1971-1975; from 1981-1982, and from 1989-1991. Throughout his career he also served as chair of the Contemporary Civilization Program (1968-1971) and the Government Department (1964-1967) at Columbia College. He was named Class of 1919 Professor of Political Science in 1978, a position he held until his death.

"Joe was an inspiration to his students and his colleagues, mixing profound learning with inspired humor," said Lisa Anderson, dean of the School of International and Public Affairs. "He mixed serious scholarship with adroit and generous departmental leadership, and enjoyed not just the respect but the affection of an enormous community of scholars. We are all deeply saddened by his death."

Beginning in his first year as an instructor, Rothschild served as an associate at Columbia's Institute on East Central Europe and at the Russian Institute. From 1960-1985, he served as an associate on Columbia's Program on Soviet Nationality Problems and on the administrative board for the Research Institute on International Change.

Rothschild was a member of the Academy of Political Science, the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies, the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences in America and Phi Beta Kappa. He also served on the editorial boards of Political Science Quarterly and Middle East Review.

Rothschild was a member of the Commission on International Affairs for the American Jewish Congress beginning in 1985, and from 1975-1990 he was the national vice chairman of the American Professors for Peace in the Middle East.

Throughout his career he received numerous academic honors, distinctions and fellowships.

He is survived by two children, Nina, a student at Columbia's Joseph L. Mailman School of Public Health, and Gerson.