Elie Wiesel Professor of Judaic Studies
Joined Connecticut College: 1991-2014
B.E.S., University of Minnesota
Ph.D., Brown University
• Judaic studies • Rabbinic law and theology • Liberal arts and higher education
A leading expert on Rabbinic law and the author of numerous books and articles, Roger Brooks was recruited to Connecticut College in 1991 from the University of Notre Dame to become the Elie Wiesel Professor of Judaic Studies — the first faculty position named in honor of the Nobel Peace Prize winner and international human rights advocate. Brooks' outstanding contribution to the classroom at Connecticut College has been recognized by award of the John S. King Memorial Award, the highest teaching honor the College confers on faculty. Brooks taught courses ranging from biblical and rabbinic texts to studies of Jewish theology, history and rabbinic law. In July 2014, he concluded a term as dean of the faculty. He officially retired from the College in December of 2014.
Author and editor of 6 books, Brooks' academic writing focused on the relationship between nascent rabbinic society and Roman imperial power, especially as expressed in Judaic law in late antiquity. He is author of The Spirit of the Ten Commandments: Shattering the Myth of Rabbinic Legalism (HarperCollins). He has published several volumes of translation and commentary on foundational Jewish texts, including The Talmud of the Land of Israel: Tractate Peah (on poor relief) and Tractate Maaser Sheni (on second tithe) (volumes 2 and 8 in the University of Chicago Press series). He has also published a textual commentary on the Mishnaic tractate Peah, and the early midrash compilation Sifre, and is a contributor to the Yale University Press translation, The Mishnah.
Brooks was the recipient of the 2014 Distinguished Achievement Award in Holocaust Studies from the Holocaust Educational Foundation. Over nearly 20 years, he served as the Mills Family chair and faculty member in the foundation's Summer Institute on the Holocaust and Jewish Civilization (at Northwestern University). The Institute has helped prepare more than 700 professors and advanced graduate students to teach college courses on the Holocaust.
From 2003 to 2007, Brooks served as the College’s associate dean of the faculty, and from 2007-2014 as dean and chief academic officer.
In his capacity as dean, Brooks oversaw a number of signal improvements to the College’s programs and facilities. He served as lead author of the College’s most recent strategic plan, supervised Institutional Research in building a culture of evidence via participation in the Wabash National Study of Liberal Arts Education and the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education, and oversaw the College's accreditation with the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. He worked closely with College advancement to secure funding for faculty research and for other important academic programs in the sciences, studio arts, global education, and for the sophomore research program. He led the $25 million transformation of New London Hall into a state-of-the-art science center. Brooks also worked tirelessly to raise the level of student-faculty engagement through initiatives like the Residential Education Fellows program, creation of the College’s first LGBTQ center, and overseeing the inception of the Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity. His leadership reached all aspects of campus life, from curricular design and institutional planning to budgeting.
Brooks also spearheaded a significantly successful program to diversify the faculty ranks at Connecticut College. Under his leadership, the percent of faculty of color increased from 16 to more than 24 percent in seven years — a pace of progress unusual in liberal arts colleges. With colleagues from Middlebury, Williams, Columbia University, University of California, Berkeley and the Center for Institutional and Social Change at Columbia Law School, Brooks has been instrumental in guiding the Creating Connections Consortium (C3). C3, funded with the generous support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is an initiative to promote inclusion and full participation in the professorate throughout the academic pathway from undergraduate student to graduate student to faculty member. For further information, please see the C3 website, http://c3transformhighered.org.
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