❍ Year of graduation: 1966
❍ Field of current or former occupation: Academia
Question: What is your current occupation and where do you live? Please briefly describe your duties and responsibilities. How long have you been at this position?
Michael Katz: I am currently C.V. Starr Professor Emeritus of Russian and East European Studies at Middlebury College. I retired from full-time teaching in December, 2010.
Question: Did studying Russian language and culture at Williams help you in your professional and personal development? If yes, then how were Russian Studies were useful to you? What opportunities and challenges did the Russian major open up for you both specific to your current occupation and more generally?
Michael Katz: I had begun my study of Russian before Williams, at the Horace Mann School in NYC and at the Colby College Summer School. When I arrived at Williams, Russian was just getting started with Doris de Keyserlingk and Nicholas Fersen. I decided to major in it and the program was designed to provide courses in Russian history, Soviet politics, and economics. I was also fortunate enough to spend the summer after my freshman year in Russia on a U of Michigan program: the combination of Williams courses and the in-country experience decided me on my course in life. After graduation I did my doctoral work at Oxford, spending a full year on IREX in Leningrad. It was there that I decided to enter academia.
Question: Please share your advice or recommendation about the Russian department at Williams to a prospective student who is considering taking courses or majoring in our program.
Michael Katz: Unfortunately I am not up to date with the current offerings, so it would be difficult for me to share advice or recommendations, except to say that Russian culture is worth all the time and effort it takes to learn the language!
If you would like to write to Michael Katz, please contact Baktygul Aliev.