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Professor Jennifer Rich: A legacy of intellect, passion and mentorship lives on

Hofstra was forever changed on Friday, June 28, when Jennifer (Jenny) Rich passed away. A scholar, poet, teacher, musician, mentor and friend, Rich’s dedication to her craft inspired those around her and her kind demeanor has left a massive impact, one far greater than words can express. 

“The Hofstra community is deeply saddened by the loss of Jennifer Rich, associate professor and department chair in the Department of Writing Studies and Rhetoric, who lost her battle with cancer this past Friday, June 28, surrounded by her family and loved ones,” Hofstra University said in an official statement over the summer. 

Since 2005, Rich has taught courses at Hofstra in writing studies and rhetoric, women’s studies, the Honors College and English. Her deep passion for writing studies emanated onto everyone she taught and encountered.

“Jennifer Rich was an integral part of the formation of WSC as a department. Her humor, commitment to our students, and sense of shared purpose leaves a lasting mark on all of us,” said Ethna Lay and Daisy Miller, associate professors of writing studies and rhetoric. In a joint statement to The Chronicle, the two emphasized the impact Rich had on them as colleagues and friends, as well as the entire community. “She is so very deeply missed on a daily basis. We hope to honor Jenny’s memory by continuing her important work at Hofstra.”

Rich was also heavily involved in promoting collaborative research between departments. “She has also been involved in continuing grant work with colleagues in Engineering and Psychology to examine the effective integration of writing exercises into engineering courses,” the University said. Rich was the recipient of a National Science Foundation grant in 2012 and was a participant in the University’s Distinguished Faculty Lecture in 2017. She authored two books and contributed to campus publications by discussing her research and findings. 

“I had the privilege and great fortune of knowing Rich; I took a few classes with her during my undergrad,” said Nadeem Deeb, a 2019 graduate of Hofstra. “She enjoyed teaching and being surrounded by her eager students. I’m really appreciative of her mentorship, which encouraged me to fulfill my passion for writing studies. She will be greatly missed.” 

Aside from her exceptional impact in the classroom, Rich was also a dedicated musician and accomplished violinist. She attended the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and, when she wasn’t teaching or mentoring, she performed with the Queer Urban Orchestra, a musical organization in New York City that aims to promote and educate on equality, understanding, acceptance and respect. 

After her passing, Rich’s family asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the “Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation,” an organization that keeps music alive by donating musical instruments and support to underfunded schools. 

She is survived by sons Ethan and Hayden Rich; her wife, Faith Bonerari-Rich; and her father, Sheldon Rich. Plans for a memorial on campus are underway. 

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