Belatedly, it has come to my attention that one of University of La Verne’s most esteemed professors, Prof. Emerita Rhoda Kachuck (1932-2022), has passed with little or no notice in our community.
Over her approximately forty years of teaching in the English Department, Prof. Kachuck touched the lives of many students, both our traditional age and adult students. Long before the term multicultural education became common parlance in our educational system, without commercial anthologies available to educators, Prof. Kachuck cobbled together multicultural readers for our students. She established the direction of our English curriculum towards a more inclusive syllabus for our English majors.
Within our community, she inspired as well a more inclusive consciousness among our administration and faculty. When the annual La Verne calendar was presented at faculty meetings each year, she was quick to suggest in her always inimitable, polite manner the religious holidays of marginalized groups that were left out. Our inclusive consciousness in our curriculum and our community in general today must date back to Prof. Kachuck’s innovative teaching and her outspokenness when it was not so popular to do so.
She as well taught Holocaust studies in an effort to bring to our students the consequences of intolerance and a soverintist views. To bolster further her influence among our students, she offered each year a Seder for both faculty, staff, and students. As the consummate teacher that she was, she was convinced, rightfully so, that the way to understanding each other and overcoming stereotypes was through knowledge of one another, our different traditions, beliefs, and customs.
In addition, she was the mainstay of the English major. She taught the required Shakespeare course. The measure of the many students that she influenced was her retirement dinner at Walter’s Restaurant in Claremont attended by scores of her former students, faculty, and administrators. At the open mic dozens of her students stood in line to tell her how much she had influenced their lives and had made their education at the University of La Verne the crowning achievement of their educational experience. To further her reach, for years she took a group of adults and students to the Oregon Ashland Shakespeare festival each summer. The repeat attendance each summer by her adult students is a commentary on how inspiring she was a teacher and mentor.
She was equally committed to the survival of the University of La Verne. She and Israel, who passed the year before Prof. Kachuck, generously donated to the University’s general fund in the years that donations were most needed, especially during its financially callow years. Prof. Kachuck should be remembered as a consummate member of our La Verne community: for her commitment to educational excellence, her concern for her students’ welfare, and for her belief in the mission of the University of La Verne.
Professor Emeritus of English
Member of the La Verne Academy