Authored By Margaret Andracchi
Joining the faculty of Marymount Manhattan College in 1980, Dr. Gurcharan Singh quickly became an integral part of community and created a legacy that still lives on today. He began teaching as an Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Studies, backed with a MA and PhD from the City University of New York (Marymount Manhattan College 1980). Dr. Singh is credited for founding the International Studies program during his first years there, and is still honored today for this contribution with the Gurcharan Singh Memorial Fund. For 25 years Dr. Singh served the community, until his tragic death in 2007 in a motor vehicle accident.
All throughout his life, Dr. Singh was devoted to his mission of teaching others. Before coming to Marymount, he had taught similar coursework at Columbia University. Even after his retirement in the late 1990s, he still continued to teach and according to Dr. Mary Brown, “He was listed as an emeritus in the (Marymount Manhattan Course) catalog until his death 2013. This is a courtesy extended emeriti, but he also taught on an adjunct basis during his retirement” (Mary Brown, email to author, September 5, 2018). Emeriti is an honorary title given to professors, among other positions, who have retired and served their educational facility dutifully.
The Gurcharan Singh Lecture, created in his name and out of respect for his contributions to the International Studies program, is a fund that “…was created to establish a lecture series and a student essay competition focusing on Professor Singh’s core values and fields of interests” (Marymount Manhattan College, n.d. para 1). Having ties to the United Nations, Dr. Singh always urged his students to understand the importance of worldwide collaboration and respecting nations of other cultures and beliefs.
In addition to promoting the importance of international awareness and engagement, Dr. Singh also served as a role model of his religion. He was a follower Sikhism, and his turban (as pictured above) marked him as such. It is a monotheistic religion with core beliefs of cooperation with others and inclusiveness (Almasy 2018). Presently, Marymount Manhattan College is no longer considered a Catholic Institution, as the Archdiocese revoked the connection in 2005 (Westen 2005). However, it was founded in and promoted Catholicism for a majority of its existence. During his employment, Dr. Singh was able to teach others about his religion, instilling tolerance and awareness. In his lifetime, he held several importance positions within Sikhism, including “…vice chairperson of the Executive Committee of the World Sikh Council and…chairperson of the Human Rights and Religious Freedom Committee” (Sauerm 2007, 15).
Whether it was teaching about the need to work cooperatively with nations of the world or promoting his faith’s beliefs of helping out all members of mankind, Dr. Singh life was a testament of love and respect. He was philanthropist who urged those under his instruction to do the same. His death, brought on by a tragic hit and run, rocked not only Marymount Manhattan College but society as a whole. One of his last endeavors to try and make the world a better place was endorsing the freedom of Khalistan, the Sikh homeland, from Indian occupation (Towns 2007). He had also planned to teach the atrocity of rape in times of war as described in speeches by Geraldine Ferraro but unfortunately never got the chance (Brown 2018). Not only does Marymount Manhattan College students do their best to honor Dr. Singh till this day, but all who knew him, by following his teachings and trying to make a better world rooted in peace and cooperation.
Almasy, Steve. 2018. “Who are Sikhs and what do they believe?” CNN.com, May 25, 2018. https://www.cnn.com/2012/08/05/us/religion-what-is-a-sikh/index.html
Brown, Mary. 2018. “Dr. Singh, #3 & Last” Email, 2018.
Marymount Manhattan College. 1980. Marymount Manhattan College Course Catalogue.
Marymount Manhattan College. (n.d.) “The Gurcharan Singh Lecture” MMM.edu https://www.mmm.edu/departments/international-studies/singhlecture/.
Sauer, Erin J. 2007. “Remembering the Life of Gurcharan Singh” Marymount Manhattan College Alumni Magazine,14(2), 14-15, Summer 2007.
Towns, Edolphus. 2007. “In Memory of Dr. Gucharan Singh, Humanitarian and Freedom Activist” Congressional Record, 153(61), E766, April 17, 2007.
Westen, John-Henry. 2005. “Catholic Church Withdraws Recognition of College That Plans to Honor Pro-Abortion Hillary Clinton” LifeSite, April 29, 2005. https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/catholic-church-withdraws-recognition-of-college-that-plans-to-honor-pro-ab.