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Hispanic American Historical Review 84.3 (2004) 499-501

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Robert M. Levine (1941-2003)

Late in the evening of April 1 , 2003 , Robert M. Levine, Gabelli Senior Scholar in the Arts and Sciences, Director of Latin American Studies, and professor of history at the University of Miami, died after a determined and ever-optimistic fight against cancer. He was 62. Family and longtime friends were with him at the end, including his beloved companion Karen Orlin. He leaves behind his sons, Joey and David, his parents, David and Ruth Levine, his sister, Janice Hirshon, and his brother, Michael Levine. His untimely death brought expressions of grief, condolence, and remembrance from friends, colleagues, and students throughout the Americas and Europe. He leaves an enormous and important legacy of books, articles, scholarly research aides, videos, photographs, oral interviews, and his proudest accomplishment, dozens of productive scholars and teachers who carry on his abiding interest in all things Latin American.

As a teenager growing up on Long Island, Bob often caught the train into New York City, visiting bookstores, museums, and cultural events; here he developed a thirst for understanding the dynamics of human events. Virtually everything interested him. His flair for writing and history led him to Colgate University, where he graduated with high honors. He then studied with Stanley Stein, one of the major figures in the development of Latin American studies in the United States, at Princeton University. Bob felt a deep connection to both universities and remained active in alumni affairs throughout his life.

Bob began his teaching career at SUNY -Stony Brook in 1966 , remaining there a productive decade and a half and producing his early scholarly works while taking an active role on various committees for the Conference on Latin American History, the Columbia University Seminar on Brazil, and groups that aided refugee scholars from Latin American dictatorships. He received the Outstanding Professor award from the History Department in 1978 , an acknowledgment of his open, generous style of both teaching and collaboration with colleagues. He served on many interdisciplinary committees and task forces, always with a view toward enhancing the viability of Latin American studies at Stony Brook. [End Page 499]

While at Stony Brook, he began experimenting with slide presentations, videos, and music as a way of improving his teaching and drawing students to Latin America's rich cultural heritage. This activity eventually grew to include an eclectic and valuable collection of videos and prizewinning documentaries he continued to produce at the University of Miami in later years. Bob also invited many prominent guest speakers to the university, organized symposia, and always included students in the planning and presentation of these events. He modeled for his students how effective and far-reaching even the most mundane academic activities could become if done with integrity and insight.

His early scholarly works include The Vargas Regime: The Critical Years (Columbia Univ. Press, 1970 ), a detailed examination of the genesis of the Estado Novo and populism during a critical moment in modern Brazilian history. Bob's next project utilized quantitative methods for a case study of Brazilian regionalism. He, along with Joseph Love and John Wirth, undertook a pioneering collaborative effort at a collective biography of the political and social elite of three Brazilian states. The three volumes demonstrated Brazil's regional diversity during the Old Republic. Bob's contribution, Pernambuco in the Brazilian Federation (Stanford Univ. Press, 1978 ) was eventually translated in Brazil as A Velha Usina (Editora Paz e Terra) in 1980.

In 1981 , Bob accepted a position with the University of Miami, beginning a productive and exciting two decades during which he helped build a nationally recognized graduate program in Latin American history, served as department chair for the history department, interim dean of the Graduate School of International Studies, and recruited new faculty members. He also served on the editorial board of the Hispanic American Historical Review and became the coeditor of the Luso-Brazilian Review. The revitalized Latin American history program attracted many outstanding students to the University of Miami, who have now gone on to research...


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pp. 499-501
Launched on MUSE
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Archived 2004
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