2012 Honorary Degree Recipients
Robert Rabil, Ph.D. '87, Doctor of Humanities
Dr. Robert Rabil serves as Associate Professor of Political Science at Florida Atlantic University, and holds the position of Lifelong Learning Society Distinguished Professor of Current Events at Florida Atlantic for the 2012-2013 academic year. His areas of research include Political Islam, Terrorism, Transnational and Revivalist Movements, U.S.-Arab Relations, Arab-Israeli Conflict, Reform in the Arab world, and Contemporary Middle Eastern and Southeastern Politics.
He is the author of Embattled Neighbors: Syria, Israel, and Lebanon (2003), Syria, the United States, and the War on Terror in the Middle East (2006), and Religion, National Identity and Confessional Politics in Lebanon: The Challenge of Islamism (2011). His articles have appeared in major newspapers and academic journals, including the Wall Street Journal, Chicago-Sun Times, Daily Star (Beirut), History News Network, National Interest, CNN, Middle East Journal, Middle East Policy, the Journal of International Security Affairs, Middle East Quarterly, and Middle East Review of International Affairs. He also contributed a number of book chapters on Political Islam and Middle Eastern Politics.
Dr. Rabil has offered his expertise and insight to a range of national and international media outlets, including ABC, CBS, BBC, FOX, MSNBC and C-SPAN. He has spoken at Harvard University, Johns Hopkins, Brandeis, Case Western Reserve, and the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, and has participated in roundtable discussions and forums sponsored by the United States government, including the U.S. Army and National Intelligence Council.
Previously, Dr. Rabil served as the chief of emergency services for the Red Cross in Beirut, Lebanon. He has taught at Suffolk University, and was the project manager of the United States State Department funded-Iraq Research and Documentation Project.
Dr. Rabil earned his Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science from Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, his Masters in Government from Harvard University Extension School and his Ph.D. in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies from Brandeis University.
Sandra Burton, Doctor of Fine Arts
Sandra Burton is the Lipp Family Director of Dance and chair of the Dance Department at Williams College. As a dancer, choreographer, educator, and arts presenter, her study, research, and travel focus on traditional and contemporary forms from Africa and the Diaspora.
Ms. Burton has choreographed productions for Williamstown Theater Festival, as well as works for PlayMakers Repertory Theater, the Goodman Theater, the Henry Street Settlement, and the Williams College Theater Department. She is the choreographer for composer Craig Harris's productions of God's Trombones and visual artist Carrie Mae Weem's film Coming Up for Air.
Ms. Burton was a member of the Chuck Davis Dance Company, and a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) dancer/educator for the Artist in Education program. Her dance choreography has been performed at Dance Theater Workshop, Judson Memorial Church, Theater 4/Negro Ensemble Company, Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA), and venues in Nicaragua, Brazil, and the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. She served on the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Education's Arts Curriculum Framework Committee and serves on the Board of the New England Foundation for the Arts. She also has served on the board of Jacob's Pillow Dance and is a Trustee Emerita of the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art.
She co-founded an annual conference held at Williams College, entitled Stalwart Originality: New Traditions in Black Performance, and serves as Co-Artistic Director of Kusika, a traditional African dance and percussion company.
Burton holds an MFA in dance and choreography from Bennington College.
Samuel H. "Sandy" Laitman, Doctor of Laws
Samuel H. "Sandy" Laitman is a retired attorney and philanthropist who lives in Williamstown, Massachusetts. He is a supporter of a range of arts and cultural organizations in the region, and has provided opportunities for students in the MCLA Arts Management program to attend national and international conferences and programs that help them to connect their academic work with experience and practice in the field.
Following service with the United States Air Force, Mr. Laitman worked as an auditor and tax accountant in New York City. He later joined the firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, where he became partner and head of the trusts and estates department.
His philanthropic and community involvement includes service on a number of personal and charitable trusts, including the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York, and the Low Haywood Thomas School in Stamford, Connecticut. He is a former trustee of the Williamstown Art Conservation Center and the Williamstown Theatre Festival.
Mr. Laitman is a graduate of Williams College. He earned an MBA from New York University Graduate School of Business Administration, and Bachelor and Master of Laws degrees from New York University School of Law.
Dr. Eugene W. Leibowitz, Doctor of Public Service
Dr. Eugene W. Leibowitz was appointed to the MCLA Board of Trustees in 2000. He is a former Board chair and has served on every committee of the board during his tenure as a Trustee. During his time on the Board, the College has experienced tremendous growth, including the addition of several new majors and programs, expanded student life programs, growth in enrollment, deeper engagement in the community, and new and enhanced campus facilities.
He attended the State University of New York at Albany, and is a graduate of Albany Medical College, and served in the United States Army. As part of his medical training, Dr. Leibowitz studied neurology, neuropathology, and neuroradiology at National Hospital for Neurologic Diseases at Queen Square in London England. During this time, he participated in the first preclinical studies of the CAT scanner, that involved large animals from London's the Regent Park Zoo.
Dr. Leibowitz began his medical practice in New Jersey, before moving to Pittsfield, Massachusetts, where he has lived since 1973. He established and maintained the first combined neurosurgery-neurology practice in Massachusetts. His practice pioneered a range of innovative neurosurgical practices in the region, including the use of the CAT scanner, microscopic neurosurgery, stereoscopic neurosurgery, and the creation of a specialized neurosurgical nursing unit.
He served as an Instructor in Neurosurgery at the Albany Medical College and currently serves as a professor of Neurosurgery at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He is past president of the Massachusetts Neurosurgical Society and the New England Neurosurgical Society, and a former member of the Joint Council of State Neurosurgical Societies.