Bat-Ami Bar On, 72, professor of philosophy and women, gender and sexuality studies and founding director of the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH) at Binghamton University, died on Monday, Nov. 16, following a brief illness, according to a BU Dateline Announcement.
The professor received her bachelor’s degree in philosophy and sociology and her master’s degree in philosophy from Tel Aviv University. Bar On then received her doctorate in philosophy from The Ohio State University.
Bar On joined the faculty at BU in 1991 as an associate professor in the philosophy department. After receiving the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1999, Bar On was promoted to a full professor in 2002. Following her promotion, Bar On chaired the philosophy department at BU from 2003 to 2009 and the department of Judaic studies from 2010 to 2015.
Additionally, she was past chair of the Citizenship, Rights and Cultural Belonging Transdisciplinary Area of Excellence and established the IASH at BU. According to the Dateline announcement, “she will be remembered as a force of nature who took IASH from an idea to a thriving institute.”
Bar On’s areas of research and teaching included war and terrorism, democratic theory, political and social philosophy and feminist theory. Bar On’s current research concentrated on the intersection of refugee studies and just war.
Additionally, Bar On received BU Graduate School’s Faculty Excellence Award in Graduate Mentoring. Celia Klin, interim dean of Harpur College of Arts and Sciences, remembered Bar On as a dedicated member of the BU community.
“She was interested in virtually everything, and anyone who had the privilege of knowing her had the joy of engaging in deep conversation with her and watching her light up and dig into whatever topic was at hand,” Klin wrote. “She was never without a question (and more often, many) and an opinion (often strongly held).”
Christopher Morgan-Knapp, chair and associate professor of philosophy, recalled her passion for her work and expressed grief due to her passing.
“[Bar On] was a powerful presence in the life of the University,” Morgan-Knapp wrote. “She was devoted to her students, becoming a valued mentor to many. She was a strong advocate for the humanities and the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration, and she was committed to justice, both in her academic research and in practice. We will miss her deeply.”
Bridget Whearty, an assistant professor of English, tweeted her condolences, stating she considered Bar On to be “a great mentor and model.”
“I was just a junior [professor] in her general orbit, no one particularly important and not even in her department or program,” Whearty wrote. “She made such a point of connecting deeply and authentically with all kinds of people. I really admire everything she accomplished and did.”
A memorial service was held on Wednesday morning. Anyone who wishes to pay their respects can make a shiva visit via Zoom. Shiva visits will occur from 7 to 9 p.m. on Nov. 18, 10 a.m. to noon on Nov. 19, 10 a.m. to noon on Nov. 20, 2 to 4 p.m. on Nov. 22, 3 to 5 p.m. on Nov. 23 and 10 a.m. to noon on Nov. 24. The Zoom link can be found here and the Zoom Meeting ID is 878 410 4211.
Those who wish to visit in person should contact Lisa Tessman, Bar On’s spouse and a professor of philosophy, and Yuval, their daughter, in advance to avoid large gatherings by texting or emailing Yuval at 607-761-1796 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Visitors must remain on the deck with a mask at a distance and cannot bring food.
Students in need of counseling services or support can contact the University Counseling Center at 607-777-2772 and the Office of the Dean of Students at 607-777-2804. Faculty and staff in need of support can contact the Employee Assistance Program any time of day at 1-800-822-0244.