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Alumni of the Month

November 2016
Robert J. Bernstein

(BA, History, '55)


Q & A:

  1. What was your favorite class, who was your favorite professor, or what is your fondest memory of Hofstra?
    My favorite professor was Professor Myron Luke, who taught world history. I'm sorry to have missed Professor D'Innocenzo and Dr. Herman Berliner. My favorite memory of Hofstra is having my first beer when I was inducted into the Sigma Alpha Sigma fraternity.
  2. What was your first job after graduating Hofstra, and what was the most valuable thing you learned there?
    My first job after graduating Hofstra was teaching at Levittown Memorial High School. I learned that I needed a master's degree or even something beyond that.
  3. What is your field of specialty, and how did you come to work in the industry?
    I've always loved history and working with young people. I never did well with plain geometry or intermediate algebra.
  4. What advice would you give Hofstra students?
    Study hard and get involved with all the great things that Hofstra has to offer.
  5. In one word, how would you describe Hofstra?
    Exhilarating.
  6. What was it that first sparked your interest in the field of law?
    I recognized that students had their own rights and responsibilities and I was concerned that their rights were being violated. I started the elective at The Wheatley School so students can learn about their rights and that's how I became involved with the law program there.
  7. How has the Mock Trial Tournament that you started at the Wheatley School in 1984 benefited students? What kind of skills do you hope they gain from participating?
    The tournament gives the opportunity for our students to compete against students from other schools. In preparing for this competition, students learn to analyze, develop their verbal skills, and to think on their feet. It's a great learning experience.
  8. What is the single most rewarding/exciting experience in your career thus far?
    The knowledge that I have made a difference in people's lives.
Robert J. Bernstein

Robert J. Bernstein graduated from Hofstra University in 1955 with a BA in history. He went on to receive an MA from Columbia University. Bob was recently chosen by the Nassau County Bar Association to receive its Liberty Bell Award, a prestigious award presented annually to a non-lawyer individual or organization in recognition of outstanding community service that has contributed significantly to the furtherance of law and justice. He has demonstrated commitment throughout a lengthy career devoted to teaching young people the importance of understanding our judicial system and the valuable place it holds in ensuring the fair and just application of law for all. Additionally, he has dedicated over 15 years of volunteering for the Nassau County Coalition Against Domestic Violence, now known as The Safe Center Long Island, on behalf of victims of domestic violence.

Bob has taught at many schools on Long Island, including Levittown Memorial High School, Mineola High School and The Wheatley School. He was also history chairperson of the American School of Paris in Paris, France. In 1972 Bob started the law program for seniors at The Wheatley School. The program dealt with student rights and responsibilities. In 1984 Bob started a Mock Trial Tournament at The Wheatley School, which includes teams from other Long Island schools. The tournament recently celebrated its 31st year of existence. Additionally, in 1977 Bob coached the Wheatley team in the inaugural Nassau County Mock Trial Tournament where he is still coaching The Wheatley School mock trial team to date. Bob has received numerous honors and awards, including Wheatley Teacher of the Year, Hofstra Veteran of the Year, Volunteer of the Year on behalf of the Hofstra Alumni Organization, Hofstra Lifetime Achievement Award, Joseph Margiotta Distinguished Service Award and the Hofstra George M. Estabrook Distinguished Service Award. During his time at Hofstra, Bob was president of the Hofstra University Pride Club, vice president of The Alumni Organization, vice president of the Hofstra Veterans Association, a member of Kappa Delta Pi (Honorary Education Society) and Pi Delta Epsilon (Honorary Journalism Society), sports editor of the Hofstra Chronicle and manager of the track team.