Stephen B. Levensohn, 1931-2004
Stephen B. Levensohn, Professor of Philosophy, Humanities and Religious Studies at the University of Central Florida, passed away on June 16, 2004, at Winter Park Hospital in Winter Park, Florida. Professor Levensohn had taught at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida for 35 years. He was 73.
Originally from Boston, Professor Levensohn spent 4 years in the Air Force, mostly in North Africa, from 1952-1956. Subsequently, he took his bachelor’s degree in philosophy at Boston University and both his M.A. and Ph.D. at Florida State University. Dr. Levensohn held a Post Doctorate from Jewish Theological Seminary. In 1969, he joined the faculty of Florida Technological University (later to become the University of Central Florida).
During his teaching career at the University of Central Florida, Professor Levensohn touched the lives of many students. Not infrequently, one would find a long line of students in the Philosophy Department office waiting to speak with him. Even when teaching large classes, Professor Levensohn would often insist that each student in each of his classes make a personal visit to his office during the semester. These visits were not perfunctory, but often lasted an hour or more, as Professor Levensohn had a genuine interest in getting to know each one of the hundreds of students enrolled in his classes. And because of the genuine interest Professor Levensohn took in their lives, many students would return to his office several times during the semester and continue to seek his advice long after they had completed his class.
In addition to classroom teaching, Professor Levensohn was the founder and original Director of Religious Studies at the University of Central Florida. He was also the first faculty advisor for the Black Student Union when there were no Black professors. Together with his wife, Kate, he delighted his radio listeners and callers as the gravelly voiced Harriet of “Aunt Harriet’s All Night Diner” and later, the issue-oriented WUCF program “Practical Wisdom.” He also established Philosophy Practicum, a program that sent university students to mentor at-risk youth in the Winter Park Housing Authority and similar organizations in Volusia and Brevard counties.
Professor Levensohn retired from full-time teaching last June. A dedicated teacher who loved his students, he continued to teach in an adjunct capacity, however, and was expecting to begin his next class on June 24.
Professor Levensohn is survived by his wife, Kate Levensohn; his daughters Jaimie Morris, Elizabeth Levensohn, Tia Llewellyn, Alexis Rosenfelt; his son Todd Levensohn; his sister Maxine Wientraub, and twelve grandchildren. Family was an important value to Professor Levensohn and he will be greatly missed by all of his extended family, including the many friends who were adopted into his family and always made to feel welcome at large family gatherings and celebrations.
In recognition of Professor Levensohn’s commitment to students, his family has established the Stephen B. Levensohn Scholarship/Memorial Fund at UCF. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to The Stephen B. Levensohn Scholarship/Memorial Fund, UCF Foundation, 12424 Research Parkway, Suite 140, Orlando, FL 32826.
Shelley Park and Nancy Stanlick,
University of Central Florida