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Jacqueline L. Levine


University Announcement about the Passing of Jacqueline L. Levine

Jacqueline L. Levine died Saturday, May 23, 2020 in Rochester. Jackie served as assistant dean and director of the College’s Center for Study Abroad and Interdepartmental Programs from 1983 until 2015. She served as assistant dean and director of special projects from 2016-2020, working to enhance study abroad and other experiential opportunities for students in collaboration with alumni.

Her preparation for her career was, like Jackie, unique. Among many other experiences, she studied at UC Berkeley, the Université de Nice (France), Monroe Community College, and the University of Rochester where she received her Bachelor’s degree and an MA in French. She was a sous-chef at the first French restaurant in Rochester, and worked at the historic Village Green Bookstore where she met John Borek, who became her beloved husband of 44 years.

As director of study abroad for more than three decades, Jackie oversaw steady increases in the number of students studying abroad; in total, thousands of students participated in overseas experiences during her tenure. In the words of Eric Phamdo ‘11, MBA ‘17 and former staff member, “She worked tirelessly behind the scenes with us in the office—when programs didn't go according to plan; when there were emergencies abroad; when there was bureaucracy to cut through. I believe she knew in her heart that students truly grew most when they were on their own, out in the world, and away from the ivory tower.The one thing she fought for most was to make study abroad possible for students who might not have had the opportunity to or belief that they could. She cared fiercely for those students—the ones who succeed against the odds to get into college—and she helped show them that their success was just beginning... She showed that to me and my life is better for it."

In a society that places pressure on students to go to college, finish in four years, and then get a “good job” or go directly to graduate school, Jackie was proud of her non-traditional higher education and career paths. She would share them with students who were struggling to figure out what to do with their lives—as a personal example and as a teaching moment.She knew that there is no “one size fits all” educational and career path and that students should embrace, not fear, such challenges.

In 2009, Jackie’s dedication and efforts resulted in the Center receiving the University’s Goergen Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Education. She was tireless in her efforts to make travel and study available to everyone who wanted to go abroad, especially under-represented minority students.And where she and her staff could be of help to others in the University, she was quick to volunteer.Likewise, she encouraged her staff and other colleagues to pursue educational and professional opportunities such as advanced degrees, positions within professional organizations, program site visits, and Fulbright awards.

Well-respected in the field, Jackie was a member of NAFSA, the Association of International Educators, for the entirety of her professional career, and participated in numerous program reviews for IES Abroad and the Council on International Educational Exchange. She is the only professional in the field who was awarded both the IES Abroad Professional Development Award and the IES Abroad Lifetime Achievement Award, both awards selected by her peers.

Mary Dwyer, President and CEO of IES Abroad, recalls that Jackie was everything that a study abroad professional should be. She maintained excellent relations with program providers in order to assure the best possible quality control of overseas programs to the benefit of her students. She truly cared about each student and advocated for them as appropriate. “She was a person for others,” said Dwyer.

Jackie was a proud resident of Rochester, and especially of the city’s 19th Ward.Along with her husband John, Jackie enjoyed showcasing the neighborhood and the City to students and other visitors.Her office and home had ‘open door’ policies, welcoming friends, students and visitors.She had a gift for connecting with people of all ages and backgrounds. Many Rochesterians know Jackie as the doyenne of the Rochester Public Market. It was one of her favorite activities, and also an opportunity to introduce students and visitors to a beloved facet of Rochester.

Jackie and John were partners in the true sense of the word. They shared a sense of active intellectual, artistic, and civic engagement. They supported progressive political candidates for local and national elected offices. Jackie encouraged young people to pay attention to politics and to vote in local and national elections. Fiercely supportive of equality, fairness, and human rights, Jackie was adamant that change could come about, in part, through political action.

Jackie’s presence is already missed at the University and by her colleagues, friends, and family.Her effects on education abroad, in the community, and the world are lasting and incomparable.

Respecting Jackie’s own wishes, donations in her memory will be directed to support the University’s partnership with the Andrew Goodman Foundation, which seeks to advance equity and justice through voter engagement and participation among students. The University is also exploring the development of a course on U.S. civil rights history, which would incorporate visits to sites central to the movement.

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