Sarah Lawrence College Remembers Faculty Members Rose Anne Thom and Kanishka Raja

The Sarah Lawrence community mourns the loss of two beloved faculty members—Rose Anne Thom and Kanishka Raja.

Rose Anne ThomRose Anne Thom had a long and exceptional career in the Dance program at Sarah Lawrence College. She started here as a guest faculty member in 1975, and became a regular member of the teaching faculty in 1977. She served as Dance Program Chair and also as Associate Dean of Studies. In addition, Rose Anne was an integral part of faculty governance, serving on every standing committee of the College (some more than once!) and as the Faculty Trustee. Upon her retirement in 2015, Rose Anne was honored by the Board of Trustees with the title Faculty Emerita.

Rose Anne was a consummate teacher and don, demanding rigorous work from her students and equally rigorous dedication from her colleagues. She was legendary for keeping up systematic meetings with her donnees throughout their four years at the College, finding time for probing, extensive conversations around curricular and career planning on a regular basis. Rose Anne frequently taught foundational component classes, especially Dance History and Labanotation, but her talents were not limited to the Dance program. She saw dance as an integral part of the liberal arts and regularly offered courses in the humanities that included Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes; Balanchine, Graham, and 20th Century Modern Dance; Social Consciousness in Modern Dance; and Aspects of World Dance. She taught these courses at the Center for Continuing Education as well, and many of Rose Anne’s CCE students went on to matriculate in the undergraduate college.

Rose Anne’s students and colleagues knew her as feisty, passionate, straightforward, and always full of energy. Just a few years ago I attended a wedding where Rose Anne was also a guest. She was sweeping and whirling around the dance floor with great aplomb and I remarked in passing to my husband that she was close to retirement. His astonished response, “Get out!!”, was testimony to her incredible verve and dynamism. Her indefatigability, her sensitivity and care, and her extraordinary dedication to the College greatly influenced all of us.


Kanishka RajaKanishka Raja taught painting and drawing at the College. He arrived at Sarah Lawrence in 2015, after a series of appointments that included a Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace Residency, being a Fellow at the Civitella Ranieri Center in Italy, and an NEA funded residency at the International Studio and Curatorial Program in New York. Kanishka was intensely interested in ideas of translation, especially across media. His work involved images that were “carried” through various visual representations, from postcard images to paintings (disrupted) to textiles. Describing work exhibited at Sarah Lawrence in October 2017, he said, “Paintings based on found images form the generative anchor for works that, via processes of repetition, doubling, and inversion, undergo interpretive transformations in the hands of multiple craftsmen and collaborators and are then returned to the studio to be sutured together into notions of provisional wholeness.”

In his three years at the College, Kanishka took the time and care to make significant connections with students and faculty. Colleagues have described him as a “wise and powerful teacher,” one who found a way to help students grow by being completely honest and yet deeply empathetic about their work. As for myself, I will not forget the rollicking lunchtime conversations about art, music, shirts—you name it. Kanishka was a fierce and vibrant presence on campus who will be sorely missed.

At this time the College does not have information about memorial services for Rose Anne or for Kanishka. We will share any information that becomes available on this page.

Kanwal Singh
Dean of the College