Everyone knows there is no one better at satirizing the political realm than Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart. What many do no know, though, is Stewart’s father, Donald Leibowitz, is an expert in various engineering fields who used to teach at the College.
Leibowitz was a Liberal Learning adjunct professor who taught a Society, Ethics and Technology (SET) section with associate professor of technology studies Ralph Edelbach at the College.
Leibowitz’ second of four sons, Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz, aspired to be a comedian and eventually became the host of “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central.
Stewart dropped his official last name and changed the spelling of his middle name to become the Jon Stewart millions know today. According to Leibowitz, Stewart changed his name because it was too “ethnic” for Hollywood.
“You can catch Jon on ‘The Daily Show’ Mondays through Thursdays on Comedy Central at 11 p.m.,” joked the professor. “And feel free to read his two books, ‘Naked Pictures of Famous People’ and ‘America (The Book): A Citizen’s Guide to Democracy Inaction.’”
Leibowitz saw Stewart’s determination to be a comedian. “I felt that he was definitely taking his chances trying to make it as a comedian, but he was strong-willed like the rest of my other sons,” Leibowitz said.
The former professor still keeps in contact with Stewart despite his son’s busy schedule.
“All my sons had their own experiences and I am absolutely proud of all of them,” Leibowitz said.
His oldest son, Larry Leibowitz, worked for Morgan Stanley, a global financial services firm, and eventually became the chief operator of the New York Stock Exchange. Leibowitz’ third son Daniel works for the non-profit organization Isles, a community development and environmental organization. His youngest son, Matthew, graduated as a psychology major at the College in 2006 and is now a substance abuse counselor.
Leibowitz graduated from New York City’s Stuyvesant High School in 1949. The professor then went on to earn a degree in physics from the City College of New York.
Before arriving at the College, Leibowitz had a long career in energy and economy. In 1971 he became the energy coordinator for the New Jersey Department of Treasury. He remained at that position for more than 14 years, developing energy-saving techniques for the state buildings in Trenton. He also helped with the early development of the cogeneration district heating and cooling systems in Trenton, providing more efficient heating and cooling with better pollution control than localized boilers.
In 1988, he became president of the Trenton District Energy Company (TDEC) of the Trigen Energy Corporation, where he also worked while still with the Department of Treasury.
He currently holds 10 patents for different applications in engineering projects and received his master’s degree in physics from New York University and a master’s degree in economics from Rutgers University.
Leibowitz remained with TDEC for 12 years before retiring in 2000. After relaxing for a year, he could not stand retirement any longer and applied for a teaching job at the College.
In 2001, all freshmen had to take the SET course, however, the College decided to change the program in favor of the current freshman course experience, the First Seminar Program (FSP).
He then taught a Liberal Learning course called “Human Survival – the Challenge of Science in the 21st Century.”
He continued the course until the end of Fall 2008. Leibowitz currently teaches an online course at Thomas Edison University.