Charles Vernoff, emeritus professor of religion, died March 11 at his home in West Hollywood, Calif. He was 71. Vernoff taught at Cornell College for 28 years, from 1978 until his retirement in 2006.
Vernoff’s emeritus citation stated that he helped to reshape the curriculum of the religion department by adding depth and intercultural breadth to the course offerings, and brought a thoughtful, acute voice to faculty deliberations.
Best known for his courses Mysticism East and West, The History and Theology of the Holocaust, and Contemporary Jewish Literature, Vernoff was also a scholar whose work appeared in the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Journal of Ecumenical Studies, Jewish Civilization: Essays and Studies and many others.
Vernoff was also known on campus for his classroom teaching, his embrace of One Course At A Time, his fierce intellect, and his commitment to community. In his remarks at Vernoff’s retirement, Dean Dennis Moore said: “Charles’ sensibility has led him to care enormously about the concept of campus engagement in our setting, and over the years he has been an avid participant in our ongoing conversations about community at Cornell.”
Vernoff did his undergraduate work at the University of Chicago, and graduate work at Harvard University, the University of California at Santa Barbara, and the University of Jerusalem, and earned his Ph.D. at UC Santa Barbara.
The college will hold a story telling-based memorial service during Homecoming at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013, in Allee Chapel.
A full obituary will be published in the summer edition of the Cornell Report. A column remembering Vernoff was published in the Intermountain Jewish News.