At the end of 2021, while we in the FSC WID Committee were embroiled in planning this book, former chair of the WID Committee and beloved member of the English and Humanities Department, Dr. Marcia Littenberg, passed away. Though I did not get to meet Marcia in person, she graciously met with me over the phone to discuss the book and offered her expertise as a reviewer for contributions. As a former WID Committee chair, she had an interest in the book, and she encouraged me to focus on the community that had formed around the committee and consider how that sense of community—its needs, its function—changed with the times. COVID put us all out of arms’ reach of each other, but it did not undo Marcia’s work, as WID continued to keep us united, shaking hands virtually, but shaking hands, nonetheless.
As you will read in the reflections below from faculty in the English and Humanities Department, Marcia brought people in. She welcomed new faculty members, she advised and supported students before they committed to majors, and she helped established faculty move into new roles. Marcia held a two-hour phone conversation with me on a Wednesday afternoon even though I was a new faculty member in a department from which she had already retired, and even though we would never meet, which I suspect she knew at the time.
Finally, regarding her role as a reviewer, Marcia could only review the contributions of students and faculty members who arrived at FSC after her retirement, those she did not know. In other words, Marcia helped the new folks come in because Marcia brought people in.
– Chris Iverson
I first met Marcia when I interviewed for an adjunct position at Farmingdale. As I recall, she had recently announced her retirement. I had no idea at the time that I would end up staying at Farmingdale full time, and she was certainly on her way to spending more time at her beloved animal shelter and traveling with her family. It seemed unlikely that we would have much further interaction, and I fully expected to walk out of that interview with a polite smile, maybe a farewell handshake. But that’s not who Marcia was. She wasn’t done with me. She wanted to talk about Edwidge Danticat.
Many people collect experiences—from travel, books, relationships—like lines on a CV, to make themselves look impressive. Not Marcia. She used the wealth of her experiences to find common ground, to connect with others on their terms. No doubt what fueled much of her academic drive was an insatiable curiosity and a keenness for understanding, but she was also eminently hospitable. Maybe that’s what made her such a committed teacher. When she saw the name Edwidge Danticat on my CV, it was more than academic curiosity that prompted her to discuss my research; it was hospitality. I couldn’t have felt more welcomed, more nurtured, more seen if she were setting out cups of tea.
In retirement, she was never really gone from the department, and so, over the next, too few years, I witnessed again and again her unrelenting habit of making people feel seen—of insisting on their wellbeing and making them feel valued. She’ll never really be gone from my life either; such is the legacy of her fierce kindness.
– Jason Lotz
Marcia was a champion for her students, a passionate writing instructor, and an integral part of the Writing in the Disciplines Committee’s development and success. Her accolades as a scholar and educator are prolific, her commitment to community service was tireless, and her work with animals was inspiring. She began as my office roommate and quickly became my dear friend. Marcia, you are missed.
– Mary Caulfield
While most of us in the English Humanities Department remember Marcia as an outstanding teacher and a stalwart colleague, for several years she was also the chair of the Undeclared Major. At that time Marcia was the sole advisor for the over 400 students in the program. She was an outstanding chair, and she was more than an academic advisor to her students; she was beloved.
– Marlene Groner
Marcia was my rock. When [the former English department chair] died and I had to serve as chair, Marcia volunteered to come in to help me, even though she was retired. When Marcia turned WID over to me, the program was in great shape so I could hit the ground running. When I ran the Sunshine Club, Marcia was the first person in the conference room on party day with a fantastic dish that she had “just whipped up.” She always arrived fully prepared, too, the food in an electric frying pan with all the appropriate condiments and serving utensils, And oh! It was always something extra special and so delicious!
In short, I will always be grateful for knowing Marcia and I will dearly miss her.
– Laurie Rozakis