Eastern Michigan University names Robert Erlewine Director for the Center of Jewish Studies

Robert Erlewine, Director for the Center of Jewish Studies

YPSILANTI, Mich.  – Eastern Michigan University today (May 25, 2022) announced the appointment of Robert Erlewine as the director for the Center of Jewish Studies. The position also carries a rank of full professor with tenure in the Department of History and Philosophy.

Erlewine joins EMU from Illinois Wesleyan University, where he is a professor of religion and has served as Isaac Funk Endowed Professor in Philosophy since 2020. Prior to that, he was Isaac Funk Endowed Professor in Religion from 2019-2020. He served in several other academic roles at Wesleyan beginning in 2006, including chair of the Religion Department. He was a visiting lecturer in the Jewish Studies Program at Dartmouth College for the summer term of 2019, and began his professional career in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Houston as an adjunct lecturer.

Eastern Michigan University Provost and Executive Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs Rhonda Longworth and College of Arts and Sciences Dean Dana Heller announced the appointment following a national search that brought three finalists to the University for interviews and public forums.

“Dr. Erlewine brings an outstanding background in religious studies and particularly Jewish studies,” said Provost Longworth. “As the University’s Center of Jewish Studies celebrates the milestone of its 10-year anniversary, we are excited for what the next decade will bring under his leadership.”

Erlewine said, “I am very excited to be stepping in as Director for Eastern Michigan’s
Center of Jewish Studies. Jewish Studies allows students from all different backgrounds to get a sense of Jewish experience, thought, and culture while also participating in a range of different disciplinary conversations. The center also brings in exciting speakers who make Jewish Studies accessible and engaging to faculty, students, and the larger community beyond the university. It is an honor to be stepping into this role and working to build upon Marty Shichtman’s impressive legacy.”

Erlewine earned a Ph.D. in religious studies from Rice University, a master’s degree in philosophy from Boston College, and a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

Longworth acknowledged the outstanding leadership of Dean Heller and the work of the search committee, chaired by Jeffrey Bernstein, professor of political science and director of the Faculty Development Center, and including University faculty members Decky Alexander, Leslie Atzmon, and Martin Shichtman, founder and current director for the Center of Jewish Studies, who is retiring from the University. The search committee also included Samuel Hirsch, trustee for the EMU Foundation, and Jill Hunsberger, associate vice president for advancement.

Longworth also acknowledged the excellent guidance provided by Dr. Shichtman and his work in launching the Center of Jewish Studies to establish a vibrant office for student, faculty, staff and community involvement and thought leadership. “Professor Shichtman is one of the most respected members of the Eastern Michigan University community,” said Longworth. “He has established a distinguished and lasting legacy.”

Erlewine’s appointment is effective August 16, 2022, subject to approval by the EMU Board of Regents.

About Eastern Michigan University

Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It currently serves more than 15,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Engineering and Technology; Health and Human Services; and, its graduate school. EMU is regularly recognized by national publications for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website.

May 25, 2022

Written by:
Walter Kraft

Media Contact:
Melissa Thrasher