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Home » Campus News Latest » Obituaries » Gordon “Gordie” Fellman ’57
Gordon Fellman, a beloved teacher and colleague, died October 19, at the age of 88. He leaves behind his wife Pamela Blau, and two children, Ezra and Talia.
Gordie grew up in the Midwest and attended Antioch College for his undergraduate degree. He got his Ph.D. in Sociology from Harvard. Straight away, in 1964 he joined the fledgling Sociology Department at Brandeis. He was a member of the Brandeis faculty for almost sixty years, and retired from teaching just in fall 2020. Over the years, he inspired generations of students to think critically, be self-reflective, and engage in social action. As a former student commented at his June 2022 retirement gathering, Gordie conveyed warmth, passion, and concern for students as people. He invited students to join him in an inquiring approach to education. Countless students have spoken of the profound personal growth they experienced in his classes, and the ways Gordie inspired them to make the world a better place.
He taught numerous courses: “Deconstructing War, Building Peace,” “Social Class and Social Change,” “Masculinities,” “Marx and Freud,” “Sociology of Empowerment,” “Psychoanalytic Sociology,” “Sociology of the Israeli-Palestinian Confrontation,” and “Public Sociology.” He explained that this seemingly disparate listing revolved around several central questions: What are the sources, in history and in the self’s development and inner workings, of unnecessary human suffering? How can it be thoughtfully, carefully, mindfully reduced? Gordie won the Louis Dembitz Brandeis Prize for Excellence in Teaching in 1999. And in 2007, he won the Student Union Best Teaching Award, which was determined by the student body voting to select between the university’s top three professors based on course evaluations.
Gordie was chair of the Sociology Department from 1974-1976, and again from 1984-1987. As well as being a faculty member of the Sociology Department, he was a co-founder and, from 1990 on, served as chair of the interdisciplinary Peace, Conflict, and Coexistence Studies Program (originally called Peace Studies Program, and later, Peace and Conflict Studies Program).
He was a part of several key moments in Brandeis’ history. Not least of these was the original Ford Hall demonstration in [1968] and the National Student Strike in 1970. In spring 1998, he and a remarkable group of about 35 members of Brandeis Students for a Free Tibet carried out 16 programs called Seven Weeks on Tibet. It culminated with the Dalai Lama’s May 8-9 visit to Brandeis. Later that year, Gordie published Rambo and the Dalai Lama: The Compulsion to Win and Its Threat to Human Survival (Albany: SUNY Press). His goal was to move beyond analysis in offering hope in the form of visions of mutuality and actions to help bring it about.
Most recently he was awarded the ‘2021 Peace Educator-Scholar Award’ for excellence in scholarship and dedication to peace education by The Peace and Justice Studies Association (PJSA). For the Brandeis University 2022 Commencement, Gordie served as the Grand Marshall. Since retiring, he continued to write and decided to learn to play the piano.
Ronald Michael Hampton