Rhea Turteltaub ’82

DEGREE: B.A. in political science

JOB TITLE: Vice chancellor, external affairs at UCLA; member of the Trinity College Board of Trustees

ACTIVITIES WHILE AT TRINITY: Freshman/novice crew, swimming in freshman and sophomore years, residential adviser in junior and senior years

What originally drew you to Trinity?
It was a classic liberal arts experience, but with the strong urban opportunities for off-campus learning.

Which professor(s) had the most impact on you and why?
Sonia Lee, freshman seminar professor. The course was “Autobiography, the Intimate Art.” We read and wrote A LOT! She had very high standards for the work we produced. Important lessons for any freshman. Diana Evans, political science; my adviser. She was a freshly minted professor who brought the enthusiasm of her congressional research into the classroom and made the issues come alive. She also encouraged me to reach beyond the many history and political science courses I was enrolled in and stressed the importance of taking art history and music history classes. I didn’t listen. I regret it. And I told her so many years later. That’s impact! And we are close to this day. Jack Chatfield, a great history professor who had a genuine connection with his students, even in a large lecture class, and made every topic relevantly enlightening and engaging. Rex Neverson, political science. I took a few classes with him, but the one that had the most impact was “Constitutional Law.” Learned a lot, but most important lesson was figuring out I didn’t want to go to law school!

What was your favorite college course and why?
“Legislative Internship.” 35 hours in the Connecticut General Assembly, half-day seminar on Fridays. Real world experience and impact.

What is your favorite memory of Jewish life at Trinity?
Passover seders, High Holidays

What did you do after you graduated?
My first job was in the Trinity Development Office! I was hired to design and manage volunteer phonathons around the country. I worked for the College for three years, eventually broadening my responsibilities to include the Parents Fund, research, and early-stage campaign activities. 

How did you come to the position you hold today?
Working for Trinity launched a 31-year career in higher ed advancement that took me from Hartford, to UC Berkeley, The University of Chicago, Otis College of Art and Design, and UCLA for the last 19 years.

How did Trinity help guide you in your life?
That’s a hard question. I don’t know that it was direct guidance but rather the experiences Trinity afforded me–two really important internships: the legislative one mentioned above and also in my senior year, the internship I did at United Technologies Corp. Working for and learning from top professionals in their fields were incredible opportunities. Trinity positioned me well to be successful in those environments because I knew how to write, analyze, and think critically.

What has been your involvement in the Jewish community, in the past and currently?
I have to be honest and say that until I had children, my involvement was limited. I was raised in a Reform temple, did all the requisite Hebrew School, bat mitzvah, confirmation rituals, but little community involvement. Since having kids, my involvement has grown. My sons (15 and 12) went to Jewish day school for their elementary education. My 10th-grader is in a Jewish high school. My involvements have been in those settings, a bit with the Bureau of Jewish Education and with Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles.

What role do you think Hillel plays on college campuses across the country and at Trinity? 
Hillel provides a home away from home, builds a sense of community, instills pride in our religious and cultural traditions, and educates and trains the next generation of Jewish leaders.

What do you hope to see from the upcoming generation of Jewish college students?
Honestly, what I hope to see from the upcoming generation of all college students: patience, kindness, mutual respect, and a commitment to making the world a better place. Doesn’t sound like a particularly tall order, but sometimes I worry there isn’t nearly enough to go around.