1983 Metcalf Cup & Prize
Robert Wexelblatt, CBS
Professor Robert Wexelblatt unites the roles of teacher and scholar so perfectly as to make one wonder why the categories were ever distinguished. The breadth of his mind is suggested by two recent items in his bibliography: “Chekhov, Salinger, and Epictetus” and “Kleist, Kierkegaard, Kafka, and Marriage.”
In thirteen years at Boston University, Professor Wexelblatt has become central to the Humanities program of the College of Basic Studies. The team concept and core curriculum both bear impressions of his vital personality. Beyond this is his impact on his students. Almost without exception they remember not only their teacher, but the ideas he offered and the example of humanist he provided. Spontaneously, in great numbers, they write to tell him of their intellectual development through the years.
Professor Wexelblatt captivates his students on a purely personal level with his knowledge, enthusiasm, and wit. Without condescension he relates the material to his students’ lives through carefully chosen analogies. He stretches their capabilities with assignments and examinations designed to encourage creative and critical thinking. His lectures draw constantly on different disciplines; no work is considered in isolation. One feels the electricity as students make connections. He teaches by being a model of thinking as well as an elucidator of texts.
His appeal is based as much on the unquestioned intellectual awakening of his students as it is on his warm and generous personality. Few professors make so great an impact on their students.