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Spring 2014
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Edward N. Beiser

Professor Emeritus of Political Science Edward N. Beiser passed away on Friday, September 4, 2009, at Tamarisk Assisted Living Facility in Warwick, RI, of Parkinson’s disease at the age of 65.

Beiser grew up in the Bronx and graduated cum laude from City College of New York in 1962. He received his MA and PhD in political science from Princeton and, in 1965, began teaching at Williams College. He joined Brown’s Department of Political Science in 1968, where he became known for his use of the Socratic method. His course “Hard Choices” became popular among students, who voted him “best teacher” many years in a row. He was made parliamentarian of the faculty upon arrival at Brown.

“He had the ability to transform a classroom and bring to life the material he was teaching,” recalls former student Daniel Neff ’74. “His remarkable wit— funny but never biting—was always present, and his openness to students was legendary. There was always a crowd outside his door during office hours.”

Says former student and colleague Tom Bledsoe MD’88, associate professor of medicine: “Coming from such a rich background in political science and law, [he] had a remarkable capability to get the group to stop and think about what, culturally, had become a matter of routine. His thought-provoking questions instilled a lifelong ethos of questioning the values, both personal and professional, both patient- and physician-related, that are the true drivers behind medical decisions.”

In 1977, Beiser received his JD from Harvard Law School and, in the 1980s, then-Dean of Medicine David S. Greer recruited Beiser to develop the Program in Liberal Medical Education. Beiser was appointed associate dean of biomedical ethics. In this capacity, he helped develop a third-year clerkship program in applied clinical ethics with Dan W. Brock, professor emeritus of philosophy and founder of Brown’s Center for Biomedical Ethics.

Beyond Brown, Beiser was considered an expert witness in medical ethics by the Rhode Island Supreme Court. After 35 years of teaching political science, law, and medical ethics at Brown, Beiser retired in 2003.

Beiser is survived by three sons and three daughters-in-law: Reuben ’91 and Tehila, Joshua and Suellen, and Benjamin and Felicia. He is also survived by 10 grandchildren and by his brother and sister-in-law.


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