Donald S. Rothchild '49
Donald S. Rothchild '49, on January 30, 2007, of complications from lymphoma. He was seventy-eight and a resident of Davis, California.
Don was born in 1928 and raised in New York. As a bright and intellectually curious teenager during World War II and the Holocaust, he wanted to understand the causes of conflict and decided to study political science. A member of Middle Kenyon Association and Tau Kappa Alpha, Don earned a bachelor's degree, cum laude with high honors, in political science in 1949. He was also president of the International Relations Club and a member of Student Council at Kenyon.
Don spent two years in the Army during the Korean War. He married Edith White in 1953 and used the GI Bill to earn a master's degree from the University of California, Berkeley in 1954 and a doctorate from Johns Hopkins University in 1958.
Don taught at Colby College in Maine before joining the University of California, Davis in 1965. Struck by economic and racial inequality in much of the world, he focused on studying civil conflicts and ethnic divisions in Africa. He won fellowships to study in Africa and spent a total of six years teaching at universities in Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, and Zambia.
Don was a distinguished political scientist at UC Davis and an international expert on conflict resolution who advised global policymakers on causes of civil strife and ways to avoid it. During more than four decades at UC Davis, he became a leading authority on issues of power sharing, ethnic divisions, and governance, particularly in Africa. Besides teaching, he lectured at top think tanks, belonged to editorial boards of academic journals, and participated in numerous international conferences on politics and peace.
Don received many honors, including Fulbright and Rockefeller grants and the 2003 University of California Distinguished Professor award. He was widely admired among peers for his research, ideas, and prolific writings, including almost two dozen books and more than 130 journal articles and publications. Don also was admired in the classroom, where he taught well past the age at which many professors retire. Colleagues said he was a caring teacher who inspired students with his expertise and enthusiasm.
"He loved teaching more than anything except his family," Edith said. "He loved the excitement of learning new things and the excitement of his students learning new things."
Don was a warm, self-effacing man who loved spending time with his family. His getaways included riding horses and herding cattle at a working ranch in the Sierra Nevada and snorkeling off the coast of east Africa. He was a diehard New York Yankees fan who also enjoyed attending Oakland A's games. Don was also a connoisseur of the arts, from opera, ballet, and modern art to African folk art and gourmet food.
In addition to his wife, Edith, Don is survived by two sons, Derek Rothchild, of Hermosa Beach, California, and Maynard Rothchild, of San Marino, California; grandchildren Ian, Devon, and Brooke Rothchild, of Hermosa Beach, and Logan and Liam Rothchild, of San Marino; a brother, Eric, of Seattle, Washington; a sister, Linda Preston, of New York City; and several nieces and nephews. Memorials may be made to a scholarship fund in Don's honor. Checks should be made out to UC Regents, with a notation that the donation is for the Rothchild scholarship, and sent to Micki Eagle, Department of Political Science, University of California, One Shields Avenue, Davis, California 95616.
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