After a months-long, nationwide search, Gratz College has named Dr. Paul Finkelman as its new president. The eleventh president in the institution’s 122-year history, Dr. Finkelman succeeds Joy Goldstein, who resigned in December 2016.
Dr. Finkelman brings decades of academic and legal experience to Gratz. He has published in a wide variety of areas including American Jewish history, religious liberty and separation of church and state, American legal history, constitutional law, slavery and race, and legal issues surrounding baseball.
“Dr. Finkelman is a renowned scholar with a wide range of interests and expertise,” said Michelle Portnoff, chairwoman of the Board of Governors. “We are particularly pleased with his work in civil rights and social justice because it dovetails with one of Gratz College’s biggest and fastest growing programs, Holocaust and Genocide Studies. Dr. Finkelman has a national reputation and network, which will help us expand our online programming in this field, as well as in the other degrees we offer.”
A native of Watertown, N.Y., Dr. Finkelman received his B.A. in American Studies from Syracuse University in 1971 and his Ph.D. in history from the University of Chicago in 1976. He was later a fellow in law and humanities at Harvard Law School. He has held a number of endowed chairs as a tenured professor or as a visitor, including the Ariel F. Sallows Chair in Human Rights Law at the University of Saskatchewan, the John Hope Franklin Chair in American Legal History at Duke Law School, and the Chapman Chair at the University of Tulsa Law School. In 2014, he took emeritus status at Albany Law School, where he was the President William McKinley Distinguished Professor. He is currently finishing his tenure as the Fulbright Chair in Human Rights and Social Justice at the University of Ottawa School of Law, in Ottawa, Canada. In 2017, he was also the John E. Murray Visiting Professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. Dr. Finkelman is the author of more than 200 scholarly articles and the author or editor of more than 50 books. His forthcoming book, Supreme Injustice: Slavery in the Nation’s Highest Court, will be published by Harvard University Press in 2018.
Dr. Finkelman’s work has been cited in four decisions by the United States Supreme Court, numerous other courts, and in many appellate briefs. He has lectured on slavery, human trafficking, and human rights issues at the United Nations, throughout the United States, and in more than a dozen other countries, including China, Germany, Israel, and Japan. In 2014, he was ranked as the fifth most cited legal historian in American legal scholarship in Brian Leiter’s “Top Ten Law Faculty Scholarly Impact, 2009-2013.” He was an expert witness in the famous Alabama Ten Commandments Monument Case (Glassroth v. Moore) and in the lawsuit over the ownership of Barry Bonds’ 73rd home run ball (Popov v. Hayashi).
Dr. Finkelman said he is excited to take on the challenges of leading Gratz into its next era. A historic institution, Gratz is uniquely poised to continue offering quality education while meeting the needs of a changing world.
“This is a challenging time for higher education, but Gratz provides innovative programs that are accessible locally and globally to students from diverse backgrounds,” Dr. Finkelman said. “Beyond our long-standing educational programs, we now offer a Ph.D. in Holocaust and Genocide Studies—the only online program of its kind—and one that is more relevant than ever in our increasingly turbulent world.”
“Building on this great institution’s legacy, it is my aim to lead Gratz in its next phase of growth toward achieving the goals and objectives outlined in its strategic plan,” he said. “Together—with the support of our board, our donors, our accomplished faculty and the entire Gratz community—I believe we can expand and deepen Gratz’s capacity to realize its vision: to build informed and strong communities through education grounded in Jewish values.”