Dr. Feinstein will be hard to replace

The Center for Holocaust and Genocide studies looks to the future.

Three weeks following the death of Dr. Stephen Feinstein, former director of the University’s Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, administrators are looking to the center’s future and remembering the legacy Feinstein left behind.

Administrators from the College of Liberal Arts and the Department of History, which oversee the CHGS, met just before spring break to discuss hiring an interim director and beginning a search for a permanent hire.

“There will be someone we’ll need to have to handle the day-to-day operations of the center that we need to appoint on a temporary basis.” CLA Dean Jim Parente said. “And then we’ll move forward with the search.”

Although the interim director will likely be an internal hire, the permanent hire will not be, Parente said, adding that a yet-to-be-formed committee will conduct an international search.

“Our center is quite well-known both nationally and internationally,” Parente said, “so we’re anticipating that we will be able to get a very exciting pool of candidates.”

History department chairman Eric Weitz said his e-mail inbox “has been inundated with messages from all over the world” in the wake of Feinstein’s death.

“The center and Steve have international renown,” Weitz said. “And that’s not an exaggeration by any means.”

Although he couldn’t give specific numbers, Weitz also said the CHGS Web site gets the most of CLA sites, and might be among the most-visited at the University.

Both Parente and Weitz said Feinstein would be hard to replace.

Among his many accomplishments, Feinstein was a member of the Phi Alpha Theta History Honor Society and received two Human Rights Awards during his tenure at the University.

He also was foreign policy adviser to Hubert H. Humphrey III in 1988 during Humphrey’s unsuccessful run for U.S. Senate.

Feinstein routinely combined his expertise in art history with Holocaust studies, often consulting with museums, including for the current “Deadly Medicine” exhibit at the Science Museum of Minnesota.

“He brought a unique combination of talents and gifts to the position,” Weitz said. “We’ll hire somebody excellent, but that person will be excellent in different ways.”

“He was truly an exceptional person, who had more contacts, I think, than we even knew he had,” Parente said. “I think it will be extremely difficult to find someone who is as well connected as he was.”

Weitz, however, doesn’t think it will be hard to find someone well qualified, and some of Feinstein’s international contacts might apply for the job.

“I think we will get many good applications,” Weitz said. “I think we’ll have a hard time choosing, actually.”

Ellen Kennedy, outreach coordinator for the CHGS, said all events and projects would continue in Feinstein’s absence.

“Whatever has been started, we expect to finish,” she said. “There is every reason to expect that the center will continue to move forward even as we look for a new director.”

Although Parente said he couldn’t give a specific timeline at this stage, he said situations like this generally take a couple of months of searching and interviewing before a selection is made. A decision would likely be made in June or July, he added.

“A new director isn’t going to have Steve’s outrageous sense of humor and his endless stream of jokes and his sense of irreverence, which was very refreshing,” Weitz said. “We can’t look to find a clone of Steve, because we won’t find that.”