Dr. Talbot Spivak

The Holocaust Memorial Project has been named in memory of its founding faculty member and has been in existence since 1996.

Dr. Talbot Spivak gave nearly 21 years of dedicated service to Florida SouthWestern State College. He retired in 2006 and passed away shortly thereafter.

He joined FSW as an Instructor in English/Humanities in August of 1985, quickly gaining a reputation as a true Renaissance Man who brought a constellation of intellectual gifts to his work. Fluent in French, world traveled, versed in a wide array of religious beliefs and philosophies, and an accomplished writer, he seasoned every discussion with a rich blend of experiences and creativity.

During his first semester at FSW he threw a costume party. The dean's husband came dressed as a sheik and drew such raucous hilarity that everyone in attendance went home with a new perception of both himself and his colleagues. In similar fashion, he trained his Creative Writing students to find means of self-expression which often proved transformational.

Dressing in tweeds despite the summer heat, and toting a canvas book bag over his shoulder, he always insisted on having the classroom chairs arranged in a circle to dispel the aura of the podium-bound professor. Rather than focusing on himself, he wanted his students to connect with their classmates and profit from collective thinking. Soft spoken and self-effacing, he nurtured the modest as well as the brilliant, taming the egos of his eclectic poets while encouraging the eccentricities of his brooding novelists. In teaching World Literature, he spoke of Camus and Antoine de Saint Exupery as if he frequently met them for lunch, bringing relevance and currency to literary genius. Thus he struck a match every day of his professional life, igniting candles that, when considered one by one, seemed almost insignificant. Taken together, they had a profound and lasting impact.

His culminating achievement grew from one such flicker of determination to teach the lessons of the Holocaust. The week-long Holocaust Commemorative has become one of the College's most profound cultural events. Hundreds of students and community members have come to know and understand the atrocities of World War II through Dr. Spivak’s efforts.