Remembering Peter Juviler, Professor Emeritus


Warning message

Submissions for this form are closed.

The Barnard community is deeply saddened by the recent death of Peter H. Juviler, Professor Emeritus of political science and distinguished human rights scholar.

Colleagues, students, and friends of Prof. Juviler are invited to share their thoughts and memories using the form below.

"Peter Juviler was the first person to teach me what human rights were.  When I was an undergraduate at Barnard in the 1980s, I took a seminar with him on human rights in the Soviet Union.  Even though the phrase "women's rights are human rights" -- and all that meant for the transformation of human rights principles and practice -- was still several years from being coined, he completely understood why I wanted to look at childcare as an issue of Soviet social policy! 

A decade later, when I returned to Barnard to teach, I was thrilled to hear he'd been using my work on the women's human rights movement in his courses.  And I wasn't surprised to learn that he'd started a program in human rights studies at the College.  That was Peter -- dedicated, generous, and prescient -- and I am honored I was able to call him professor and colleague."

Elisabeth J. Friedman ’88
Professor of Political Science and Latin American Studies
University of San Francisco

"Peter was fundamentally decent, a realist and an optimist, a believer in the best of humanity, and a wonderful, positive presence in my life.. Peter surrounded himself with wonderful people, students loved him, and I loved being invited to speak at his human rights seminar."

Rachel Denber
Deputy Director, Division of Europe and Central Asia
Human Rights Watch

“Peter was my teacher when I was a Barnard undergraduate and became my cherished colleague when I joined the Barnard faculty. He was a role model and mentor who gave of himself unstintingly. We are all blessed that he lived a long and productive life, and he will be sorely missed.  Fortunately, his legacy of influence on several generations of students and faculty lives on.”

Flora S. Davidson '69
Barnard Professor, Political Science & Urban Studies

"When I arrived at Barnard to join the Political Science Department in 1969, both Peter Juviler and Jim Caraley gave me such a warm welcome that, coming from a quite different academic situation at the University of London, I was able to adjust only because of their indispensable support. They quickly became more than colleagues but also lifelong personal friends. I had the advantage from the start of joining Peter in the team teaching of Modern Political Movements. Peter was then a senior tenured faculty member while I came both untenured and inexperienced. We faced a rousing class of over 200 students. From that moment I relied on Peter as my mentor and model of how to instruct an undergraduate course since I had previously taught only small seminars of graduate students in London. Modern Political Movements was a new course then and as I reflect on it now, I marvel at how Peter managed it so flawlessly. Only a year earlier, student protests had closed the university. The energy and spirit from that revolt remained as we began teaching a subject that was designed to meet the need for open and candid discussion of the most controversial political and social issues on campus. In contrast to Peter, who had been deeply involved in the turmoil of Columbia/Barnard in '68, I found myself in unfamiliar waters. He navigated them with a civility and calm that set an example for us all. This was not only due to his remarkable command of his subject but also because of his extraordinary dedication to students. This has already been emphasized by the Provost and others along with his scholarship, but it can't possibly be overstated. For 12 years, I taught Modern Political Movements with him. His devotion to students was in a league of its own; I remain in awe of it. Whatever I subsequently gave to my students came from observing his interaction with them. I now grieve over the loss of a dear friend and colleague, joining many others at Barnard and Columbia. Yet if ever the
immortality of a teacher can be proved, then Peter Juviler achieved it and I take comfort from that lesson. Thank you, Peter, with love, Dennis."

Dennis Dalton
Barnard Professor Emeritus, Political Theory

Peter was one of the first colleagues at the Political Science Department I met when I came to Barnard for the job interview in March 1994. He was the chair of the search committee. I was struck by his kindness and intellect. Later, he became a close colleague and mentor of mine as I started teaching at Barnard. Over the years, I worked with Peter closely as we were both in the field of comparative politics. We co-taught the introductory course from which I gained tremendous experience that has helped my own teaching. Peter was a very kind man and true gentleman. He was always there for students and colleagues with a big smile, offering wisdom and insights. I shall miss him dearly.

Xiaobo Lu
Barnard Professor, Political Science

"Peter was a great human being, inspiring and guiding at the same time. He was a mentor, a friend, and an honest reader who would provide constructive criticism while I was conducting my doctoral research in human rights. We will all miss him, his erudition, his compassion, his exmeplary role as a scholar, as a teacher, and as a human rights advocate."

Itai Sneh
Associate Professor, John Jay College/CUNY

"As one of its four faculty directors, Peter Juviler played an active role in the development of Columbia's Center for the Study of Human Rights from the mid 1980's until his retirement in 2007. For roughly the same period he was an equally energetic chair of the University Seminar on Human Rights. With Prof. Irene Bloom, he founded the human rights major at Barnard in 2001.  To these and many other projects at Barnard and Columbia, Peter brought insights on the former Soviet Union and its successors, on religion and especially on human rights education.  I do not remember him for a grand event or two, but rather for his sustained presence and support over all those years. Nothing was too much trouble for him.  Perhaps his most singular gift to the development of human rights studies at Barnard and at Columbia was his responsiveness to the aspirations of students."

J. Paul Martin
Executive Director of Columbia's Center for the Study of Human Rights 1978-2007, and now director of Human Rights Studies at Barnard

I was an English major who somehow became an assistant in a political science class, and that was in large measure because of the sheer enthusiasm of Peter Juviler. Never have I known an academic with such contagious and palpable zest for his discipline, a man whose elfin face would improbably light while he discussed the Soviet political system. Peter and Dennis Dalton invited me and classmate Leslie Calman to join them in wrangling the large and always oversubscribed lecture class Modern Political Movements, an invitation that I count as my highest honor while a Barnard student. A man as brilliant as Peter could have been acerbic or remote; instead he was so kind, so solicitous.  It seemed correct that he was a leader in the study of human rights; he practiced it on a micro level every day.  I will always remember him as someone who accorded all of us the honor of engaging as though he assumed we were as thoughtful and incisive as he was.  A great man, and great teacher.

Anna Quindlen '74
Chair Emerita, Barnard Board of Trustees

I am deeply saddened by the news of Peter's passing. He was my first and most beloved mentor throughout my years at Barnard and beyond. He taught me the meaning of compassionate rigor, and by his example he taught that wisdom and generosity are indivisible. When I joined a large Wall Street law firm, mindful of my commitment to the public interest, I felt deeply conflicted. I sought Peter's counsel, and he reminded me that the cause of social justice is best served not outside of the private sector but whenever possible in partnership with it. That counsel was life-altering. Throughout the course of my career, and particularly in the realm of remediating public officials' betrayal of the public trust through government ethics reform, I remind myself of Peter's teaching that each of us is better than the worst thing we've ever done, and that no context and no person is beyond the promise of redemption.

Kipling could have been writing about Peter when he said, "He walked with kings but never lost the common touch." Peter was a prince and my hero, and he will live on in every act of kindness and every step that we, his students all, take toward advancing peace, understanding and the power of love.

Paula A. Franzese
Peter W. Rodino Professor of Law
Seton Hall University School of Law

I came to Barnard to study with Peter after a friend at Columbia waxed poetic about him when I was in high school.  Peter was my advisor from day one, the reason I stayed at Barnard, a motivator, a rabbi to me, a surrogate parent and most important a cherished friend.  He taught countless women like me how to "lean in" in his seminars.  He loved a good argument regardless of whether it was antithetical to his personal views.  I never ceased to be amazed how over our thirty plus years of friendship he remembered every paper I ever wrote for him and could recall details I myself had long forgotten.  He was the true meaning of the word mensch.  I am a better person today for having known him - and will miss him more than words can adequately say.  I think all of us who benefitted from having known him need to rally to his belief in the importance of studying human rights and ensure that Barnard finds a means of building a worthy memorial to his life's work.  His gift to Barnard should become an enduring one

Jane Shahmanesh '80

It is thanks to the inspiring Professor Juviler and his colleagues at Barnard/Columbia that I embarked on a career in human rights advocacy and scholarship and find myself living with my family in Central Europe, nearly two decades after graduating from Columbia. He was an all-around wonderful person. I met him again a few years back at a dinner party while on a brief visit to NYC, and was reminded as to how truly hilarious he could also be. Rest in peace, dear professor.

Pamela (Birchenough) Kilpadi

Peter was my longest-term colleague in the Department. He was hired two or three years after I was and so we were colleagues and friends for about forty seven years (including the years when we were both retired from teaching).

Peter was hired at the height of the Cold War to be our expert in Soviet politics and Soviet foreign policy. He also taught a lecture course in comparative politics which complemented my own lecture course on America politics.

For most of the years at Barnard, Peter and I had adjoining offices so I got to know him well. He was a realist about the Soviet Union but after the end of the Cold War he proposed a course/colloquium on Human Rights. As chairman I kind of pooh-poohed the idea; no one else in the University was teaching such a course and as the realist on American and world politics that I was, I told him I didn't understand how these human rights would be defined and/or enforced, But since he was a senior full professor and he was very committed to doing this, I told him I would get such a course approved. Of course, in due course, human rights were defined, a court and enforcement system were created, and Peter became a prominent scholar in the field and taught such a course until he retired. Peter had one important flaw--he wasn't an administrator so that kept me in the chairmanship for an overly long time.

In my opinion, Peter should not be mourned--instead his long life should be celebrated. He lived and was active for many more years than the actuarial tables prophesied. He made close contacts with numerous students and was much loved by them. Always a gentleman, he had old-fashioned, even courtly manners. I will certainly miss him.

Demetrios James Caraley
Janet Robb Professor Emeritus
President, The Academy of Political Science
Editor, Political Science Quarterly

What a kind and gentle person. Professor Juviler's passing is a great loss to the Barnard and human rights community. If it weren't for him, I would not have pursued a career in human rights. I owe him so much!

Diya Nag '04

Peter Juviler was a lovely human being and wonderful mentor to so many students and young faculty alike. From the moment Peter offered me a job at Barnard, he took me under his wing. He always had an open door, friendly smile, and kind words of encouragement. You will be missed, Peter.

Linda Beck

Professor Peter Juviler had an immense impact on the Barnard community and me personally. Without his tireless efforts to establish and maintain an undergraduate human rights program, I would probably not have pursued a career specific to human rights. Many of my peers from the Class of 2004 have told me they feel the same way.

Just to give one example - in Fall 2001, he taught the first undergraduate "Introduction to Human Rights" course expecting no more than 50 students (he would later tell me) and booked a classroom of the appropriate size.  But nearly 200 showed up.  We had the first class on the lawn before we were moved to a larger lecture hall and he had to hire two TA's to help him with the class.  Through this class, he was the first to formally teach me and many of my peers the theory and tools of human rights.  This class was also significant because the 9/11 attacks occurred just weeks into the semester, and Peter suddenly had the challenge of teaching about established human rights norms when the country and students were raw from this experience. The way he allowed us to process the 9/11 attack and human rights abuses in the subsequent "War on Terror" made the material come to life and help instill a sense of responsibility for being "the change we wish to see in the world."  This course turned out to be one of the most formative experiences of my undergraduate studies. I went onto take two additional classes with Peter and sought him out as a mentor.

Peter was the type of educator who believed that his students already came to him with the understanding and passion for human rights in them - his job was simply to help them articulate it.  He was amazingly humble and always exhibited the utmost respect for his students, even those he disagreed with, despite his expertise and many decades of experience. He was always kind and encouraging while challenging me with the critique and guidance that I needed to take my passion for social justice and shape them into academically sound inquiries that would also be meaningful in the real world. His belief in me not just as a student but also agent of change was always a comforting source of motivation. I continue to carry the knowledge and inspiration he has given me to this day as I navigate current human rights and social justice challenges.

I will miss Professor Juviler greatly and join the Barnard and Columbia community in mourning the loss of a dynamic educator, great mentor and cherished friend.

Heddy Nam '04

Professor Juviler was a mentor in every sense of the word.  As his student, I learned to think critically and with compassion.  He encouraged me to pursue a law degree and inspired me to pursue a masters in public policy.  He will continue to inspire me.

Barbi Appelquist '98

Peter was my advisor and the inspiration behind my entire career. I was so impressed by his Intro to Human Rights class in 2001 that I decided to become one of the test subjects for the new Human Rights major. I am greatly saddened to learn of his passing, but I celebrate the fact that Human Rights has now become a central part of Barnard's offerings, due to Peter's inspiring legacy.

Joya Banerjee '04

On a visit to New York I am deeply saddened to learn of the recent death of a man I have been honored to call a friend since 1979. We had common interests in the study of Soviet politics, and we shared friends among some of the more liberal professors of Moscow university. His enthusiasm for life, his generous friendship, his honesty and human decency were an inspiration. A light has gone out of my life, and my thoughts are with Anne and their families.

Ronald J Hill
Professor Emeritus, Trinity College,
Dublin, Ireland

As my advisor at Barnard, Professor Juviler was an inspiration and consistently supported me while I navigated my way through the Barnard/SIPA dual-degree program. Had it not been for him and his confidence in me, I may not have made it through.

Even after I left the US, Professor Juviler and I remained in close contact and I have been trying to get in touch with him over the past few years. I am deeply saddened to hear of his passing.

In addition to being a wonderful educator and strong advocate of social justice and human rights, Professor Juviler was an incredibly gentle, kind and warm person. He practiced what he taught in the classroom through his interactions with his students and colleagues and I have remembered, and will continue to remember, him fondly over the years.

Ragini Saira Malhotra '06

I still remember Peter teaching Dostoevsky’s The Grand Inquisitor in Comparative Politics class, one of the first Political Science classes I took at Barnard as an undergraduate.  It was thanks to him that I developed a lifelong interest in Russia and comparative communism.  I was fortunate again many years later to be his colleague when I taught as an adjunct in the Political Science department.   His great insights, warmth, and good cheer will be missed very much.

Elizabeth Wishnick '82
Associate Professor of Political Science, Montclair State University
Senior Research Scholar, WEAI, Columbia University

I consider myself lucky to be one of Professor Juviler's many mentees.  I took one of his classes and had an epiphany: he welcomed enthusiasm and fostered inquiry (an approach lacking in many of my other classes). I left his lecture class feeling that I had found the ideal college experience and had to come back for more!  I took his seminar class on Human Rights and eventually combined my interest in languages, writing and politics and quickly declared myself as a political science major with a focus on Russia and Eastern Europe under Professor Juviler's guidance.

What I remember most about Professor Juviler is the kind manner and patience he displayed with undergraduates trying to understand the world around them. I am forever grateful that he gave me the vocabulary and a roadmap to articulate the vague feelings of injustice and inequality I encountered in the world. He wrapped them in terms like "human rights," supported them with conventions and treaties adopted and promoted by the UN and most major governments (whether observed by them or not). It was such an amazing feeling to finally be armed with these concepts and be able to use them to discuss problems like poverty and inequality.

After I graduated, Professor Juviler was essential in directing me to an entry level position with Human Rights Watch. While my career has diverted from that path now, the two years I spent working in that area were some of the most exciting and rewarding of my professional life. I am grateful and blessed to have known Professor Juviler and to have had the benefit of his grace and guidance. I will miss you.

Pamela (nee Cox) Anderson

Professor Juviler (who I fondly referred to as "PJ") inspired my study of human rights.  He was so much more than a professor to so many young women, myself included.  I owe much of my professional success and direction to him and to the instrumental role he played in my life.

I will never forget working with him to come up with my undergraduate thesis topic.  When I went to him to explain how the Barnard library did not have adequate scholarly materials on indigenous Maori new age religions (go figure), he suggested I find the books online and purchase them directly.  I was on scholarship at the time and paying for university myself.  I meekly replied that I did not have the funds to purchase the materials.  He reached into his checkbook and wrote me a personal check for the amount required.  I was so dumbfounded I did not react at first.  He smiled softly and said, "Now, you pay me back when you can and get that thesis done -- it's a wonderful topic and you must bring the issue to light."

I never forgot that small act of kindness.

It was because of PJ that I chose to attend graduate school, studying ethics. I dedicated my master's thesis to him because he inspired the topic--statecraft and universal human rights principles in Israel-Palestine.

After graduate school he reached out to a colleague in Belgium on my behalf. I pursued the lead and went on to work for two human rights NGOs in Brussels.

It was because of PJ I decided to apply to law school.  He told me that I could do more for human rights by understanding the structures of power that create the laws that govern human conduct.  I went on to secure positions at the California Supreme Court and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.  My last email to him was from The Hague.

I graduated from law school three days before his death.

PJ wrote every recommendation letter for every impressive thing I ever did. He believed in me--even when I wasn't so sure.  He was the kindest, most decent man.  His enthusiasm for social justice, his passion for the power of human decency--it will continue to inspire me all the days of my life.  I was privileged to know him and to call him my mentor.

Jessica M. Brown
Barnard College, B.A. Religion and Human Rights Studies, 2006
Graduate Theological Union, M.A. Ethics and Social Theory: International
Human Rights Law and Policy, 2009
Golden Gate University School of Law, J.D. Public Interest Law, 2013

To me, Peter Juviler was the face of Barnard.  He was my political science advisor in 1972, and I considered him a friend.  His joie de vivre was contagious and inspiring.  Sincere condolences to his family.

Barbara Ziv, New Orleans, LA

I was deeply saddened to read about Professor Juviler's death. He made a profound impact on my life, both academically and personally. I was a Spanish major, but after my first comparative politics class with Professor Juviler I decided to also major in Political Science. As a professor he was brilliant and engaging. As my major advisor, he was the best, most kind,  thought provoking, caring advisor a student who was still adapting to life in the United States could ever want. His door was always open to his students. There was usually a long line of us waiting outside to see him, and no one minded, because it was a privilege to spend time with Peter Juviler. Indeed, my favorite Barnard memories are of the conversations I spent with  him  in his office. He always made you feel as the most important person in the world at that time. He was a brilliant thesis director, who joined me in my enthusiasm for  the  topic I was passionate about- the transition to democracy in Spain- who challenged my writing, and my analysis in the most respectful and kind manner.  When I went on to Graduate School at Columbia and was experiencing a particularly difficult time in which I was rethinking my professional path, he was a kind friend and  mentor, who listened and guided me still, even when his hallway was still full of undergraduate students. A couple of years ago, I run into Professor Juviler by chance in my
hometown of Florida, where he was visiting his family. He was still as vibrant and kind as ever. I will miss you forever Professor Juviler.

Thank you to his family for sharing such a wonderful man with so many students during so many years.

Laura Malkin-Stuart '87

“It was the early 1960s and I was an undergraduate student at Hunter College.  I was taking Russian language classes for my physics/math major at the time, when I heard about an extraordinary teacher of Soviet Politics—Peter H. Juviler.  His course was so popular that there was an overflow of students standing in the back and in the hallway to hear his lectures.  I was lucky to enroll in his course and remember the excitement in the air as we looked forward to his class each week!  His brilliant teaching was an important turning point in my transition from science to politics.

Professor Juviler’s impact on my career was deep and lasting.  He encouraged me to go to Indiana University for my doctorate in political science, which I did, with a concentration in Soviet studies.  I subsequently joined the American University faculty where I recently retired after 45 years of teaching.  Peter and I remained colleagues and friends over the years.  I continued to use his publications in my courses; a few years ago, for example, I sent him my students’ comments on what they learned from his book Freedom’s Ordeal.  That was the fourth generation of students benefiting from his knowledgeable insights.

Peter had a special gift for teaching that went beyond the traditional classroom setting.  He encouraged students to think for themselves, to cherish their freedom of inquiry, and to engage their world with a firm sense of ethics.  His love of learning was infectious and was often expressed in a humble, unassuming way.  I remember how surprised I was as an undergraduate to hear him say to me that, despite his title, he was still a student with many unanswered questions.  I would later appreciate that comment more fully when I became a professor and found myself repeating his words to others.

I have always been honored to acknowledge Peter’s positive impact on my professional specialization and my teaching.  He also influenced me through his personal integrity and patience, the thoughtful way he expressed his ideas and arguments, and, of course, his generosity of spirit.  He was an anchor and mentor for so many of us.  A true scholar and humanitarian, Peter H. Juviler left a legacy that endures both intellectually and in our everyday acts of kindness.”

Linda Lucia Lubrano, Professor Emeritus
School of International Service, American University


Your Colloquium on Human Rights shaped and defined me and what would lead to a long career in human rights and social justice. You encouraged students to think for themselves, to not be afraid to ask questions and engage in debates. In graduate school, my love for fervent human rights debate sessions deepened because of your encouragement. Thank you for leaving a legacy of kindness, of that continues to inspire each and every one of your students.

You will be missed.

Jennifer Chowdhury, BC '06

Prof. Juviler embodied the spirit of human rights. He practiced what he taught and strongly believed in. I met him when I joined the GSAS’ human rights program in 2000. He was the ever smiling, deeply concerned and encouraging support system that helped me (and others) navigate the at times tricky terrain of being part of the “other” human rights program. Prof. Juviler gave me my first job at Columbia as the Rapporteur for the University Seminar on Human Rights and in doing so consolidated my passion for human rights. We kept in touch via email in the intervening years, after I moved back to Karachi, and I'm so very glad that I had the privilege of catching up with him on my last visit to NYC in 2009. I cherish the photo taken of us on graduation day in 2002. I'm so lucky to have benefitted from his integrity, kindness and belief in social justice.

Ayesha Hasan GSAS '02