It is with the deepest sorrow that we announce the passing of NJCH Board of Trustees member Ruth B. Mandel, Ph.D. Ruth led an extraordinary life because she was an extraordinary person. A respected scholar, educator, and humanist, Ruth’s work has been and always will be influential and far-reaching. She was elected to the NJCH board in 2012 and was gubernatorially reappointed to the board by Governor Phil Murphy in 2018. Her contributions as a NJCH board member, including her time as the chair of the governance committee, strengthened the work of the Council; Ruth’s steady and dedicated leadership and her commitment to civic engagement guided her work and her legacy will always be remembered.
“I’m very grateful that Ruth Mandel dedicated her time and talent to supporting the humanities in New Jersey,” said NJCH Board Chair Dan Fatton. “As noted in her impressive biography, Ruth was a dynamic leader with plenty of passion for a variety of causes; for many years, NJCH was fortunate to rely on Ruth’s wisdom and insights as a Board member. We will certainly miss our colleague, and friend.”
Ruth’s career was nothing short of remarkable. In 1971, Ruth co-founded the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP), a unit of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University. For over 20 years, she developed and furthered the Center, an institution dedicated to the study of women’s changing political roles and status. CAWP became a nationally regarded, multi-faceted center that explores and provides scholarly research and data about women’s political participation.
In 1995, Ruth was appointed director of the Eagleton Institute of Politics. Until she stepped down in 2019, she worked to advance the Institute’s mission to explore politics and government in America and promote political participation and civic engagement. Ruth was a real pioneer; she built programs in a fledgling area of study that brought students, political practitioners, and the community at large together to explore topics in politics and public affairs. Her efforts to foster a more inclusive and representative democracy through her work at Eagleton and CAWP, her professional board service to NJCH, as well as on the boards of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and the National Council for Research on Women, and her lasting contributions to education and civic life will continue to impact the lives of New Jerseyans and beyond.
“I speak for each of us on the staff and on the Board when I say that it was a privilege to work with Ruth Mandel,” said NJCH Executive Director Carin Berkowitz. “We admired her achievements, enjoyed her humor, were inspired by her boldness and leadership, and loved her for her candor. She was a force of nature, and she will be very much missed. Our thoughts at this very difficult time are with her family and all who loved her.”
Ruth’s lifelong work was immersed in the humanities. Her accomplishments and contributions, as described in her obituary in the New York Times, will be her lasting legacy. Our thoughts and condolences are with her family, friends, and colleagues during this difficult time.