February 14, 2012
Ruth Fleishman, longtime lab coordinator in Skidmore's Biology Department, died Feb. 14, 2012, in Troy, following a long illness. She was 80.
A native of Brooklyn, Ruth was a graduate of Lincoln High School and Brooklyn College. She earned an M.S. degree in biology at the University of Wisconsin. After several years as a biology instructor at Russell Sage College, Ruth came to Skidmore in 1966 and served as laboratory coordinator and instructor in biology for 20 years.
She was an innovator in biology teaching and published several papers on the subject. Biology Professor Roy Meyers remembered that Ruth attended conferences and wrote papers as a way to "keep the course moving forward." She was a driving force behind changing the freshman biology course every year, he added.
According to Meyers, Ruth's innovations included providing students, even those at the first-year level, with the chance to conduct direct research, "something that the National Science Foundation now actively promotes," said Meyers.
Another of Ruth's ideas was to develop course modules as a learning option for students. These were written, advanced activities that allowed students to engage in study beyond lectures and labs. Students were given the option to complete a module instead of attending certain lectures. Ruth published papers on both of these ideas, which were new then and are back in vogue now, noted Meyers.
Meyers said that Ruth was an active participant in the department's informal working lunches. "We'd all gather around the table to discuss ideas. Ruth thought a lot about teaching and there were good, deep conversations about teaching and helping students at the start of their careers."
After retiring from Skidmore in 1987, Ruth continued her commitment to science education by volunteering in the Troy schools and at the Robert C. Parker School in North Greenbush. Her other community interests included service on the boards of directors of the Friends of Chamber Music and Joseph's House and Shelter, and volunteering at Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood and the Brunswick Community Library. She was a congregant of Temple Beth El in Troy.
Ruth is survived by her husband of 61 years, Bernard, a retired RPI mathematics professor, who called her "the sweetest girl I ever knew." Other survivors include three children: Daniel (Barbara Shapiro), Nina (Barry Leibson), and Leo (Tracy Prebish); six grandchildren; and a great-grandchild.
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