Our friend and colleague, Sergei Nikitich Khrushchev, has died on June 18, 2020, missing his 85th birthday by two weeks.
Throughout his life Sergei carried a heavy burden: the burden of his famous name. Not many are capable of carrying such a burden; usually it crushes the individual, leaving nothing but a name. Yet, what surprised everyone who knew Sergei Nikitich was the light touch and elegance with which he handled his name. If the saying “grace under pressure” applies to anyone, it is to the way Sergei Khrushchev conducted his life.
Sergei managed to fill his big name with his own content, his own remarkable personality, and his own achievements. People commented on his great success in such complex and challenging fields as rocket science, engineering, writing, and journalism. We want to stress one more striking achievement by Professor Khrushchev. Sergei taught a number of courses at our department, and students never got tired of praising and highlighting his teaching style, his erudition, his ability to conduct discussion and be engaged in dialogue, his charisma and charm. A professor with such a name could have scared the students, had he demonstrated some arrogance or condescension, but Sergei was very passionate about the subjects he taught and managed to infect the students with his genuine enthusiasm and curiosity. Many of those who took his classes at Brown throughout the years still recall his amazing combination of open-mindedness, thorough knowledge of the subjects he touched upon, and unassuming manner of discussion and debate. Sergei will be sorely missed by his numerous friends, colleagues, and students, and by all of those who had the fortune of getting to know the exceptional and inspiring individual behind the name.
Vladimir Golstein, Chair of Slavic Studies