University of Vermont

Vermont Quarterly

Rifkin Scholarship offers deserving students a leg up

Dr. Ivers Rifkin
Dr. Ivers Rifkin ’49, photograph by Alfred Goldberg ’50


Rifkin Scholarship offers deserving students a leg up

Massachusetts dentist Dr. Ivers Rifkin ’49 deeply appreciates the education he received at UVM. That experience has inspired him to lend a helping hand to today’s UVM undergrads and future generations with a $100,000 gift to establish The Dr. Ivers Rifkin ’49 Scholarship.

“Student financial assistance is our top priority,” says Tom Sullivan, president of UVM. “Dr. Rifkin’s gift creates a legacy that ensures there will be Rifkin scholars, year after year, for generations to come.”

Growing up in Brockton, Massachusetts, with his family—his physician father, Abraham, his mother, Rose, his sister, Elaine, and his brother, Ernest—Rifkin graduated from Brockton High School in 1943. The young Rifkin then came to Burlington to begin college, but after his first semester he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps.

Rifkin’s World War II service would be as a radio operator and gunner in the Pacific Theatre, where he was stationed in the Mariana Islands. In the thick of history, Rifkin was on Tinian, base for the Enola Gay, on August 6, 1945, when President Truman announced that the United States had dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

Proud of his service and with that historic day forever in his memory, Rifkin returned to life stateside and resumed his studies at UVM. After earning a bachelor’s degree, Rifkin was accepted to Tufts University’s dental school where he received a DMD in 1952.

Rifkin opened a practice in Bridgewater, where he has been a solo practitioner ever since, serving several generations of families. At the age of eighty-seven, he continues to work three days a week. His longtime employee, Elaine Phaneuf, a dental hygienist and his office manager for thirty-six years, says, “Dr. Rifkin is very caring, understanding, and soft-hearted. He is proud of his UVM degree, and I’m not surprised that he made such a generous gift to a place that has been so instrumental to his career and so important in his life.”

Rifkin makes clear his fondness for the university and concern for its students. “I feel grateful to UVM for giving me the good background that got me into Tufts dental school,” he says. “And not having any children, I wanted to do something for posterity with my money. I know how expensive it is to get a good university education these days and wanted to help deserving students get their degree with a little less worry about how they were paying for it.”

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