Hofstra mourned the loss of dearly beloved faculty member Professor Harold J. Finkelstein, on Tuesday, Feb. 6, a former professor in the Frank G. Zarb School of Business, Department of Accounting, Taxation and Legal Studies in Business. Born on June 22, 1940, Finkelstein died at 77 years of age. A funeral was held in his honor on Thursday, Feb. 8.
Finkelstein was an expert in taxation and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) matters. After graduating from Brooklyn Law School, he worked as a Revenue Agent, Estate & Gift Tax Attorney, Appeals Officer and, until his retirement, Lead Appeals Team Manager/Associate Chief of the Long Island Appeals Office for 29 years. He worked for the IRS for more than 40 years and taught classes at Hofstra in the evenings for much of his time there.
Professor Finkelstein is survived by his three children, Marc, Lori and Joyce, and his six grandchildren who he always spoke of with great admiration, according to his close friends and colleagues.
Known for his dedication to his classes and craft, Professor Finkelstein maintained valuable relationships among students and staff alike. His legacy at Hofstra, according to many, was his loyalty and devotion to students. Finkelstein had a tendency to follow up with his students, getting lunches, reaching out and even attending their graduations.
Not only did Professor Finkelstein become Alexandra Krupa’s, a graduate student in the taxation MBA program, favorite professor, but also someone she looked up to.
“He made me realize how important it is to reflect on my accomplishments and to learn how to challenge my weaknesses,” Krupa said. Krupa reflected on Finkelstein’s role in her success. “His enthusiasm for teaching is what drew students into the program and exhilarated them to achieve the highest degree of intellectual and personal development through a stimulating and comprehensive program,” she said.
Marc Finkelstein, son of the late professor, attended the Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra, and shared a stage with his father on his graduation day. It was a moment he’ll never forget.
“He was the only father who was able to go up to the podium as I received my diploma. That was a special moment.” Marc Finkelstein described his father as a brilliant man who loved teaching.
“He didn’t mind coming home late from Hofstra twice a week because he had such a passion for teaching. He cared deeply about his students and he wanted to see them succeed in their careers,” Marc Finkelstein said.
After Harold Finkelstein’s wife Marcia passed away last May, Finkelstein’s children find comfort in knowing that their parents are together now.
“He was a diligent, hardworking man who was a dedicated father, husband, grandfather, coworker, colleague and dear friend to many,” Joyce Komson, Harold Finkelstein’s daughter, said.
“He had superb work ethic. His former colleagues spoke of him with the utmost respect, also noting that he was such a humble individual.”
Dr. Anthony Basile, professor of Accounting, Taxation and Legal Studies and longtime companion of Harold Finkelstein, said when he first arrived at Hofstra, Finkelstein met with him for some advice.
“He met me in the Student Center on a Tuesday night. It was him as a veteran professor kind of showing me the ropes and helping me out. After that, we continued to get dinner every Tuesday night for 20 years,” Basile said, noting how hard it is to sum up 26 years in a couple paragraphs. “His students knew they were with somebody who was the real deal. The energy he had to be able to go on about [taxation] ... it was almost endless.”
Fellow IRS employees accredited Harold Finkelstein with immense talent, knowledge and professionalism, and Basile said that due to his experience, “He knew what the outside world needed from students who are studying tax.”
Professor Neil D. Katz, professor of Accounting, Taxation and Legal Studies in Business, was a close friend and confidant to Finkelstein. The two first met when Katz was an undergraduate student at Hofstra, enrolled in Finkelstein’s class. “His concern and love for his students was displayed every day in his classroom. He was really an extraordinary person,” Katz said. “He will be sorely missed by the department, by his colleagues and by the students.”
Finkelstein taught tax courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels at Hofstra since 1977, according to Jacqueline A. Burke, department chair and professor of Accounting.
“Many of his colleagues noted that despite any difficulties Professor Finkelstein encountered in his life, he was always happy when he was in the classroom at Hofstra,” Burke said.
Students agreed that his passion for teaching was exceptional. His mission was obvious to people like graduate student Heather Rullo, who is also in the taxation MBA program. “Professor Finkelstein was one of those professors that challenged his students, but did so for just one reason and that was to watch us succeed and go above and beyond our ability to do so ... He was so kind hearted, sweet and caring.”
Beginning next week, Professor Finkelstein’s classes will resume normal schedule and classes missed this week will be made up, just as Professor Finkelstein would want them to be.