You are here

Obituary: Hannah Goldberg

Hannah Goldberg, academic vice president and provost emerita of Wheaton College died peacefully at her home in Yellow Springs, Ohio, on September 24. Her death was confirmed by her daughter, Lisa Goldberg, Antioch College graduate of 1983, who said the cause was complications from back surgery. Goldberg was 77.

Hannah Goldberg was provost of Wheaton College from 1983 to 1998, a period of enormous change that included a transition to coeducation. But her most profound impact was in transforming Wheaton's curriculum with a new emphasis on non-Western cultures and a commitment to learning outside the classroom. She created the Filene Center for Work and Learning, an innovative approach to experiential learning that evolved from her earlier work at Antioch College in Ohio where she served for 26 years as professor of History and later Dean of the Faculty. She was also, with her late husband Milton Goldberg, the founder and director of the Antioch Centre for British Studies, a field study center, for students interested in British history, literature, ideas and culture.

Hannah Goldberg was born on January 28, 1933 in the Bronx, NY, the daughter of Charles and Minnie Friedman. Her parents, both immigrants, met while taking English classes at night school. Hannah grew up in a warmly embracing Jewish cooperative community built by the Amalgamated Clothing Workers – one of three close-knit communities in which she was to spend her life. She was a member of the first coed class at the Bronx High School of Science and graduated magna cum laude with distinction in Philosophy from Brandeis University. She was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.

In 1962, she earned a Master's degree and, in 1964, a doctorate in History from the Johns Hopkins University. Her fields of scholarly interest included 18th and 19th century British social and intellectual history and British working class history, with a particular focus on the lives of Jewish immigrant girls forced into prostitution in Victorian England. It was at Johns Hopkins that she met Milton Goldberg, a literature professor. They married and, after a short stint at the University of New Mexico, moved to Yellow Springs, where they both served on the faculty of Antioch College.

Hannah loved life and she loved people. She had an extraordinary talent for making friends and inspiring their lifelong devotion. She entertained with gusto, enjoyed parties, poker games and world travel and was equally at home in animated discussions of politics, education, cooking or professional basketball. At Wheaton she kept a life-size cut-out of Larry Bird in her office.

Opinions she had. Her advice was sought by a wide range of organizations including the American Council on Education, the Association of American Colleges and Universities, the Great Lakes Colleges Association, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education, Higher Education Resource Services and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

Following her retirement in 1998 she moved to Providence, Rhode Island where she began a busy consulting career and joined the boards of Temple Beth El and Community Preparatory School, an inner-city middle school for children who aspire to go to college. She helped launch dozens of new and innovative programs and continued to amass a dossier of awards and honors. Ultimately her impairment following back surgery brought her back to Yellow Springs where she held court at the Friends Care Community, entertaining a regular stream of friends from near and far who visited her regularly, basking in her never-ending delight in seeing them, her interest in all matters large and small, and the legendary sense of humor, which she maintained until the end.

In addition to her daughter, Lisa, Hannah is survived by her sister and brother-in-law, Zelda Raider (Arny), her sister-in-law Dorothy Chapnik, her brother-in-law Ken Skolnik, many loving nieces and nephews, her dearest lifelong friends, Bob Friedman and Ilse and Cy Tebbetts, and her beloved grand-dogs Gracie and Tana.

A memorial service is scheduled for Sunday, October 24, at 1 p.m. in the Glen Helen Building, Yellow Springs. A second celebration of Hannah's life will be held at a date to be decided later in the Watson Fine Arts Center at Wheaton College, Norton MA. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the Dr. Hannah Goldberg Endowed Scholarship at Community Prep School (126 Somerset Street, Providence, RI 02907) or to the Yellow Springs Community Foundation (P.O. Box 274, Yellow Springs, OH 45387), where a fund has been established for the benefit of the staff at Friends Care Center.