What would the Rowan Center for the Study of Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights look like without the contributions of Larry Glaser, former executive director of the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education?
“It’s absolutely safe to say that we would not have this center at Rowan without Larry’s work,” Dr. Jennifer Rich, executive director of the center and an assistant professor at the Glassboro-based school, told NJJN. The center opened in 2015. “With Larry’s continued support, we were able to grow this into a robust center. Larry’s constant enthusiasm made him an exciting person to work with.”
Glaser, 72, who retired in December, started volunteering at the commission in 2007 before taking on the role of executive director in 2016. Besides his involvement with the Center for the Study of Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights and dozens of other centers in the state, Glaser also had a major part in the establishment of the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Saint Peter’s University in Jersey City.
“Larry was wonderful to us, kind, knowledgeable,” said Eileen Poiani, special assistant to the president at Saint Peter’s. “He was always here when we needed him. As a Jesuit school, social justice was always in tune
Glaser worked intensely as part of a task force that planned the Saint Peter’s center, Poiani told NJJN. He brought speakers and programs to the school, with the center celebrating its official launch on Oct. 7, 2019, the 75th anniversary of the uprising at Auschwitz-Birkenau. “He was just so helpful in so many ways.”
Glaser, who lives with his wife, Ann-Linn, in Moorestown, said that his proudest achievement during his tenure as executive director is expanding the commission’s work with the state’s colleges. New Jersey is one of 12 states with mandated Holocaust education in public schools, having required it as part of the K-12 curriculum since 1994. Glaser realized that there was a void to be filled on college campuses.
“Our K-12 program is well established, and I wanted to expand what Dr. Paul Winkler had established,” Glaser said, referring to his predecessor. “Stockton has a great program for years, and Rutgers is certainly one of the leaders, but I saw an area to grow what we are doing, and I am very proud that it all worked out at both Rowan and Saint Peter’s.”
Expanding Holocaust education in college is particularly important, according to Poiani, because despite all efforts, some students leave high school without learning about the Shoah.
“We get a lot of kids who really don’t know much about the Holocaust,” said Poiani. “They may have been absent the days it was present in their schools, so we feel it is part of our students’ education. We have a very diverse group on our campus, and they need to know about genocide.”
Glaser feels expanding what is offered on college campuses will enhance Holocaust knowledge for more than one generation.
“With the centers at Rowan and Saint Peter’s, we have two other colleges at which courses and centers are available, so we just made more students part of the game,” he said. “They graduate, get jobs, have kids, are educated about the Holocaust, and come back to one of those schools for a program featuring a topic on it. We didn’t have these [at] colleges before.”
In line with Glaser’s efforts, beginning this fall Rowan will offer its first-ever Master of Arts degree in Holocaust and genocide education, “designed to better equip those who are teaching the Holocaust in our schools,”
Glaser is optimistic that his successor, Doug Cervi, will continue the commission’s upward trajectory (see “NJ Commission on Holocaust Education appoints new head”). “I know Doug will do a great job and get a lot of people involved,” he said. “Doug comes from a long career of teaching and knows how to present our programs.”
Glaser earned a Bachelor of Science degree in economics from the University of Pennsylvania, and a Master of Arts in Holocaust and genocide studies from Stockton University; he also served as an adjunct professor at Stockton from 2007-2015, researching, designing, and developing three undergraduate courses in the Holocaust and genocide studies minor.
Glaser is a member of the New Jersey State Education Committee for the Anti-Defamation League; a charter member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum; and served on boards of The Holocaust Education Center of the Delaware Valley and the Catholic-Jewish Commission of Southern New Jersey.
Prior to his work with the commission, Glaser was an executive recruiter, placing sales personnel with national brand companies in various industries. Afterward he formed his own successful recruiting firm, which he retired from in 2008.
He and Ann-Linn have two grown children and three grandsons.