Published December 17, 2015
George R. Levine, a Fulbright scholar and highly respected UB English professor died Dec. 16 in Buffalo General Hospital following a brief illness. He was 86.
Levine also served in various administrative positions, including as provost of the former Faculty of Arts and Letters, as part of a career spanning more than four decades in higher education.
Funeral services will be held at 3 p.m. Dec. 18 at Temple Beth Zion, 805 Delaware Ave. in Buffalo.
A native of Boston, Levine joined the UB faculty from Northwestern University in 1963. He retired in 2001.
“He never forgot a student’s name,” said Rivona Ehrenreich, Levine’s widow. “There were many things he loved about the university, but his students always came first.”
A 1951 graduate of Tufts University, Levine earned an MA from Columbia University the following year. From 1952-54, he served as a member of the U.S. Army Signal Corps in Korea. He resumed his studies at Columbia following his military discharge and received a PhD in 1962.
“George was a valued colleague and a real gent — beloved by students and department staff, too, for his kindness and decency,” said Jim Holstun, UB professor of English.
In addition to his teaching responsibilities, Levine assumed a leadership role in the English department when he was named director of undergraduate studies in 1967. He became associate provost of the Faculty of Arts and Letters in 1971 and later its provost (dean) in 1975, serving in that capacity until 1981
After 1981, Ehrenreich said Levine was thrilled to be back in the classroom, a place where he often formed lasting relationships with many of this students, advising them on matters of academics and later in matters of life.
“If George met a former student he hadn’t seen in 20 years, he would pick up the conversation as though no time had gone by at all,” Ehrenreich said.
Levine, who helped develop an innovative method of teaching lyric poetry, won a Fulbright Lecturing award in 1969 that took him to the University of Cologne in Germany, where he lectured in the literature of the Restoration and the 18th century, his academic specialty.
He also played a role as an administrative link to students holding campus demonstrations as a member of then-president Martin Meyerson’s Committee on Student Demands.
“He was a gentle man who didn’t like the discord,” said Ehrenreich. “It was a very difficult time.”
Levine, who spoke often of the strong relationship between literature and the arts, was the author of “Henry Fielding and the Dry Mock: A Study of the Techniques of Irony in his Early Works.” He also co-wrote two text books, edited and completed Willard Hallam Bonner’s “Harp on the Shore: Thoreau and the Sea,” and authored several scholarly articles.
An accomplished violinist, Levine played with many non-professional groups and served on the boards of the Buffalo Chamber Music Society, The Buffalo Youth Orchestra Foundation and the Arts Education Council, and was an elected officer of the Arts in Education Institute.