Sid Bolkosky retires after 39 years

February 20, 2012



Look it up in a dictionary and one is likely to find the name Sid Bolkosky.

At least that’s the belief of many UM-Dearborn faculty and staff who worked with Bolkosky over the past four decades.

Hundreds of his friends and colleagues honored Bolkosky Feb. 9 at the University Center for his dedication to UM-Dearborn. Bolkosky retired after 39 years of teaching and 25 years of directing the Honors Program.

“Sid, you will always be our heart’s best memory,” said Elaine Clarke, UM-Dearborn professor emerita of history.

His name is synonymous with the Honors Program, designed for those students who seek an extra level of challenge and stimulus during college.

Michele Rushman worked closely with Bolkosky as an administrative assistant for the Honors Program and saw plenty of students who struggled, at times, with their studies.
“Sid would take the time to sit with them, talk with them,” Rushman said. “You never once turned them away.”
Bolkosky brought that same sense of passion with him to the classroom.

His research involving World War II, namely the interviews he conducted with Holocaust survivors, is considered second to none by many of his colleagues.

Barbara Kriigel works at Mardigian Library and helped Bolkosky transcribe his interviews so they could be shared with others.
 After transcribing hours of interview tapes, Kriigel learned a lot about Bolkosky and the relationships he built with his subjects.

The Holocaust survivors often opened up more with Bolkosky because of his personality, Kriigel said.
“The interviews are really amazing,” she said.

Jamie Wraight can attest to that. Wraight, curator of UM-Dearborn’s Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive, described Bolkosky as a mentor. 
“His impact is just beyond reach,” Wraight said.
For as many kind words that Bolkosky’s colleagues shared about him, he repaid the favor.

“You’ve made my life a happy and loving one,” Bolkosky said to those packed in Kochoff Hall. “I love this place. You all made it so much fun to be at work.”

And although Bolkosky is no longer teaching at UM-Dearborn, his service to the University will never be forgotten through the creation of the Austin-Bolkosky Scholarship Fund. The fund, which also honors retired U-M historian Erik Austin, will provide a four-year scholarship at $1,000 per year to a UM-Dearborn freshman who pursues a major within the Social Sciences Department.

Chancellor Daniel Little also awarded Bolkosky with the first-annual Distinguished Career With Metropolitan Impact Award, which recognizes and honors a faculty or staff member who has made a career-long contribution to the improvement of southeastern Michigan.

Founded in 1959 with a gift of just over 200 acres of land and $6.5 million from the Ford Motor Company, University of Michigan-Dearborn is a metropolitan university serving southeastern Michigan, committed to excellence rooted in strong academics, innovative research and programming and civic engagement. The University has nearly 8,900 students pursuing more than 90 bachelor's, master’s, doctoral and professional degrees in liberal arts and sciences, engineering, business and education.  A top-ranked university with a faculty devoted to teaching, and students committed to achievement, UM-Dearborn has been shaped by its history of partnering with local leaders and communities, and is committed to finding solutions for the challenges that face the region.