Skip to Main Content

Remembering Dr. Robert Rubinstein

September 25, 2018


Dear Members of the UMBC Community,

With deep sadness I share with you that Robert (Bob) Rubinstein, Professor of Anthropology, Director of the Center for Aging Studies, and Affiliate Faculty in the Doctoral Program in Gerontology passed away on September 19.

Dr. Rubinstein joined UMBC’s Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Health Administration and Policy in 1997. He came to us from his position as director of research at the Polisher Research Institute of the Philadelphia Geriatric Center. A cultural anthropologist deeply interested in aging as a sociocultural process, he began exploring understandings of old age in Vanuatu, Oceania in the 1970s with funding from the National Science Foundation. His subsequent research examined the meaning and function of home; generativity and childlessness; aging in place; autonomy and stigma in assisted living; and many other issues with diverse populations in the U.S. A prolific scholar, Dr. Rubinstein received uninterrupted federal funding for his research for over 35 years, including a National Institute on Aging Merit Award in 1996 for his project on bereavement in long term care. In acknowledgement of his outstanding research career, he was appointed Presidential Research Professor in July 2014.

He published more than seven books and edited volumes and over 100 journal articles and book chapters. As a founding faculty member of the doctoral program in gerontology, Dr. Rubinstein was a passionate mentor of the program’s graduate students, regularly encouraging his students to publish and present their findings. He also was deeply committed to undergraduate education in anthropology, inspiring students through courses such as his well-loved Anthropology of Gender, Witchcraft and Magic, and Suffering.

He is survived by his children, Gabriel and Lily, and his former wife, Susan. We join his family in gratitude for the gifts he shared with us and in the sorrow of his passing. Additional information about memorial arrangements will be shared in the coming days.

J. Kevin Eckert, on behalf of the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Health Administration and Policy


The Department is collecting reflections on Bob’s scholarly contributions to the profession, the university, and the lives of those he taught and mentored. We invite you to offer your thoughts on Bob through the following google form. We will share the responses with family, friends, and colleagues at a commemoration.

We would be grateful if you would share this link with others who may be interested in contributing. If you have questions or have photographs or other documents that you would like to share, please email Sarah Chard at Our submission deadline for compiling these reflections is Monday, December 3rd.


All are welcome to join us at a commemoration, honoring Bob, in the UMBC Albin O. Kuhn Library and Gallery on Monday, December 17th at 5pm.

Directions and parking information can be found online at the Albin O. Kuhn Library and Gallery website.