Lelah Dushkin, who died last year, made a donation to AIIS every year throughout her long career as Professor in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work at Kansas State University. She also remembered the Institute in her will; her last generous gift of more than $25,000 will help other scholars carry out research in India.
Lelah, who wore a constant smile, was a long-serving AIIS Trustee from K-State. She was Vice President of AIIS from 1987 to 1990. During her tenure she did an extensive revision of the by-laws to make them match more closely to what was then standard practice. She served on the AIIS Selection Committee in 1978 and 1979, and again for three more years, 1988-91. In 1989 she chaired the Selection Committee, undoubtedly the most laborious of the jobs performed by AIIS volunteers. She also served on the Nominating Committee for five years.
She came from a family of famous music educators. David and Dorothy Dushkin first established the Dushkin School of Music in Winnetka, Illinois and then ran the Kinhaven Music School in Weston, Vermont. Lelah was a cellist and taught cello, as well as serving as a Trustee of Kinhaven. However, after graduating from Smith College in 1953 she went to the University of Pennsylvania to study India in the Department of South Asian Regional Studies. Academia was not notably welcoming to women in the 1950s, but Norman Brown–a founder of AIIS– had no hesitation in selecting prospective graduate students without regard to gender. His experience working with women in the intelligence service during WWII was evidently influential.
Lelah went to India on an AIIS Junior Fellowship in 1963, a member of the very first cohort of AIIS Fellows. Her Penn Ph.D. in 1974 was on The Non-Brahman Movement in Princely Mysore. She continued teaching and research on India throughout her career. Her legacy will enable others to follow in her path-breaking footsteps.