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Office of the Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs
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The political science department has the sad duty to announce the death of Howard Lentner at age 82 on February 5th. Born the son of a Detroit bus driver, Howard worked at an auto factory and other jobs before attending Miami University and Syracuse University, where he received his Ph.D. He taught at Case Western Reserve University and McMaster University, and was then brought to Baruch to chair a political science department that was demoralized and in disarray. He quickly brought a seriousness of purpose and sense of order to the department, sending it on a course that it has continued to follow to this day. As his success became known, he was asked to serve as executive officer of the political science program at the Graduate Center. Ten years ago, he retired from teaching.
In the course of his long career, Howard compiled an impressive record of scholarship that included seven books plus articles in several of the most influential journals in political science. As an expert in international relations, his abiding interests were power and the state, and he generally approached them from within the realist tradition. And yet perhaps because he was a person of rock hard integrity, he was never dismissive of the moral concerns that the competing idealist tradition has always stressed. He produced three books after he retired.
Not solely a scholar, Howard loved to teach. He would not condescend to students, offering courses that became known for their challenging rigor. At the Graduate Center, he was known for his mentoring, which often led to long lasting relationships with former students.
In insisting on the highest standards for himself and others, Howard may have seemed old fashioned. He was, after all, the product of a distant generation. Yet he was also open to new things, and had a hunger and zest for life rarely matched even in the young. Those of us fortunate enough to have known him well will miss him. We will never encounter his like again.
Department of Political Science