By Kasey Doyle/Staff writer
Joel Roitman has been a fixture in Eastern’s history department for 34 years.Roitman, 67, grew up in Memphis but moved to Richmond when he began teaching at Eastern in the fall of 1970.
Before deciding on a career as a professor, Roitman served in the military for three years and worked as a newspaper reporter at The Press-Scimitar in Memphis.
“Maybe I should have stayed (with the paper), but it didn’t have the excitement I thought it would,” Roitman said.
He earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Memphis and his graduate degree from the University of Cincinnati. Roitman’s first job as a professor was at Eastern.
“Frankly, it was a job,” Roitman said. “I always loved history. I admired my professors, and I wanted to be like them … History is the most fascinating subject I think there ever was. It’s vast. You never can really learn it or know it.”
Besides teaching history, Roitman also helped develop the World War II course at Eastern.
He said his favorite part of history is recent American history.
“You never stop reading history,” he said. “I have this long gigantic list of books I should be reading, and I read history constantly. I always have, but still the list grows.”
Roitman said he has numerous hobbies, and in his spare time he enjoys sailing, horseback riding, target shooting and photography.
“There are a lot of fun things to do in life,” he said.
Roitman said he always had a great interest in photojournalism, and he has had a few photographs published in national works.
He said he is looking forward to retirement, and he has a few plans after leaving Eastern. He is scheduled to sail out of Key West, Fla., on a seven-day trip with the Cave Run Lake sailing association in June, and his 50th high school reunion is coming up in May.
Roitman said he might have been happier at a small liberal arts college, but he has enjoyed his time at Eastern.
“I’ve enjoyed the interaction with the students,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed the interaction with my colleagues. Overall, I say it has been a very pleasant experience.”
Roitman also said he has enjoyed living in Richmond.
“I was glad to come down here … It’s been a great place to raise kids …” Roitman said. “It’s been a good life. Life isn’t over, but it’s been nice to be here.”
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