Office of the Provost

In Memoriam: Dr. Ralph Cohen distinguished Professor at JMU and a benefactor


 

SUMMARY: Dr. Cohen's intellectual passion and primary pursuit here was technical humanism. He saw in JMU a major higher education institution committed to inter- and cross-disciplinary collaboration and a place pursuing the transactional interplay of science and technology with the value and agency of humans.


Dr. Ralph Cohen

I am saddened to announce that Dr. Ralph Cohen, the inaugural Provost Distinguished Professor at JMU and a benefactor, passed away earlier this week. The university community will miss both the level of intellectual thought and curiosity that he brought to all conversations and his work since joining our academic community in 2010.

Dr. Cohen had retired from the Department of English at the University of Virginia where he had been a faculty member since 1967. He was an author of six books and over 140 articles, as well as founder of the New Literary History Journal at UVA, which he managed for 40 years until his retirement in 2009. At UVA, Dr. Cohen was the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor Emeritus.

Dr. Cohen’s intellectual passion and primary pursuit here was technical humanism. He saw in JMU a major higher education institution committed to inter- and cross-disciplinary collaboration and a place pursuing the transactional interplay of science and technology with the value and agency of humans.  During his first semester at JMU, Dr. Cohen donated two-thirds of his personal library to the Carrier Library. He was recognized for his generous gift of rare books with a special recognition and reception on Oct. 20, 2010. He announced that the remaining one-third of the Cohen collection would be given to JMU at his death.

Dr. Cohen also established the Cohen Center of Technical Humanism building on the foundation of the graduate program in Writing, Rhetoric and Technical Communication and funded by a very generous gift from his wife, Libby, and himself. Mrs. Cohen died in March, 2013.

One of the Center’s primary programs was a series of guest speakers representing the elite of scholars dealing with the study of and application of this intersection of technical humanism. It was Dr. Cohen’s professional accomplishments and personal relationships within this network of scholars that proved so valuable to the Center and our academic community. With the support of the Graduate School, the Center has become a hub of engagement for graduate students as well as distinguished guests and scholars.

- Dr. A. Jerry Benson, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

Published: Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Last Updated: Thursday, October 20, 2016

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