Professor Emeritus of English Warren Rosenberg was named an honorary alumnus by the National Association of Wabash Men during last fall’s Homecoming Chapel. Here’s the citation read to celebrate his joining the Class of 1998:
Warren Rosenberg, honored and beloved teacher, writer, editor, scholar, and self-described “counter puncher,” we take great pride in naming you an honorary alumnus in the Class of 1998. To be clear — more than anything, you are first and foremost a holistic teacher. In your 2002 LaFollette Lecture, you said that you are obliged to “educate our students’ emotions, to harness them, [and] to refine them.”
A native New Yorker, your mother and grandfather were huge influences on your early life; they nurtured your love of the written word, and you spent hours reading books in quiet parts of your home or in your grandfather’s expansive library of books—mostly written in Hebrew. Some of your best early memories are riding into the city to read at the 8th Street Bookstore.
After graduation from the City University of New York, you got your start by teaching high school students at the tender age of 21. You arrived at Wabash in 1980 with the brash enthusiasm of a New Yorker, but quickly became befuddled when you couldn’t find a Jewish deli in downtown Crawfordsville.
As a teacher asking probing, difficult questions—counter-punching your students’ arguments and beliefs—you helped build the Wabash English Department into one of the finest undergraduate programs in the country. For three-and-a-half decades, you taught with compassion and led with conviction. Your love of literature inspired hundreds of Wabash men over the years—men who describe you as a “tireless mentor,” “close friend,” and “the most significant role model in my life.”
You won the College’s McLain-McTurnan-Arnold awards for both excellence in teaching and in research and scholarship. What made you an iconic professor was the way you blended toughness to inspire excellence and empathy to develop compassion in your students. And you evolved as a teacher—leading the Teaching and Learning Committee (among so many other faculty committees)—and changing both the way you taught and what you taught.
Coming out of the divisive co-ed study of the early 90s, you committed to answering the question, “What does it mean to be a College for men?” You designed a ground-breaking course to study Men and Masculinity, an always over-enrolled course that helped students better understand what it means to be a man—in all of its many forms.
You made men better writers by evolving your own pedagogical approach. You often drove students crazy when asking them to submit numerous drafts of papers in what you call a “scaffolding” approach to drafting, re-writing, and improving student writing. While unhappy that they had drafts to submit weeks before final papers were due, they were thrilled with the final results. As you have often said to your students, “The written word is not ephemeral. When something is published, it’s there… It’s not going anywhere.”
You have said that your identity is defined by your teaching. But you have meant so much more to Wabash, its students, faculty, and alumni. You have raised difficult questions, provided thoughtful answers, and made each and every student in your charge a better man.
Therefore, the National Association of Wabash Men is honored to have you join its ranks as an Honorary Alumnus. Warren Rosenberg, it is with great pride that we extend to you our most sincere tribute: You are Some Little Giant!