Scholarship and Prize Honor Faculty Mentor
When Lowell Miller '70 established The Robert L. Zimmerman Scholarship, he did so to honor the devotion his beloved philosophy professor and don showed his students throughout the 35 years he taught at Sarah Lawrence before finally retiring in 2003.
Miller recalls with great fondness the impact that Zimmerman had on his own intellectual development: "He managed to take an unruly but intuitive mind and introduce order and logic."
Miller says Zimmerman's influence has become even more relevant over time: He applies Zimmerman's philosophical teachings every day—in his professional role as founder and president of an investment firm, in his creative life as writer and sculptor, and in his practice of aikido, of which he is both student and teacher.
"Ever since studying with Bob, I have continued to be dialectical with every situation I encounter in life," says Miller, who was a member of the College's first co-educational graduating class. "If everyone could leave Sarah Lawrence with that gift, it would be a huge benefit."
Miller remembers well how Zimmerman engaged with students both in and out of the classroom, reminding them frequently that Plato referred to the discipline of philosophy as "therapy." Miller also recalls that Zimmerman was one of the few faculty members to participate in "snake dances," where students put tables together in the cafeteria and then danced on top of them. And even after a car accident left him injured and unable to travel to campus, Zimmerman invited students into his Brooklyn home, where he held classes that semester—rather than take a leave of absence.
"Bob was always there, living as well as teaching," Miller explains. "He was a great, dedicated teacher."
"I have continued to be dialectical with every situation I encounter in life. If everyone could leave Sarah Lawrence with that gift, it would be a huge benefit."
By establishing the Zimmerman Scholarship, Miller hopes to support other students as they embark on their own Sarah Lawrence journey and discover the College's distinctive spirit of inquiry. Recipients are students with high financial need, who are entering their third or fourth year at the College, with preference given to students of philosophy.
Miller also created The Robert L. Zimmerman Prize for Excellence in Philosophy. The award recognizes a student whose work "reflects fire and passion for the subject"—a characteristic certainly attributable to the man for which the prize is named.