Arthur M. Cohen

Passed away: Los Angeles on 25 December 2020

Aged: 93 years

Service Details

10 person limit for Thursday 12/31/20 service.
Zoom memorial to follow in January 2021.

In lieu of flowers, the Cohen family would appreciate donations in Art's name to:

Jerusalem Open House:
Contributions are tax deductible (Tax ID #11-3623968) and support a soup kitchen, holiday food packages, 24 hours free sandwich machines, monthly financial support for orphan families and a wedding fund for orphan families.
The Arthur M. Cohen & Florence Brawer Cohen Scholarship Fund at UCLA:
Donations are tax deductible (Tax ID #952250801) and support scholarships and fellowships at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, to benefit medical students with financial need, particularly those in their fourth year of studies interested in pursuing careers in primary care.

The Story

Arthur M. Cohen, UCLA professor emeritus of education and pioneer of the field of the field of community college studies, died Friday morning, 12/25/20. He was 93 years old.

Eulogies/memorials follow:
Eulogy at Hillside Memorial Park and Mortuary
By Son Bill Cohen

I have a few things to say about this place, Hillside, as an alternate little world for us. My stepmother, Flo, whom quite a few of you knew, is here. My natural mother is here. My stepfather is here. Undoubtedly some of your loved ones are here. And now my father, Arthur Cohen is here. I might end up here myself one day.

Our little world in West LA is intact right here. It's not going to change. And some of us, including myself, don’t want our little world to change. Long-term, right here is the museum of the memory of our little community.

Now we’re here to honor and say goodbye to my dad, Arthur Cohen. One thing someone pointed out to me is how many of you here consider yourself among my dad’s extra special friends. And you were. It’s a testament to my dad to get to have so many extra special friends. Some people don’t have many special friends at all. I’m glad you all are here and make up this little community. It meant a lot to my dad.

My dad and I go back a long way. As a boy, he would take me to the construction sites he managed, and I met a group of tough, hell raising roofers and carpenters that he sometimes had to bail out of jail in the middle of the night. Here’s an early memory: It's 7am, and we’re on the front bench seat of a 56 Ford pickup. On the left is my dad at the wheel, I’m in the middle in the era before seat belts were invented, and we have picked up a member of the construction crew. He’s on the right. Pulls out an unopened fifth of whiskey, turns it upside down over his head and guzzles 7/8ths of the bottle in one gulp, and passes it to my dad. My dad carried a rifle in his pickup, liked to go what he called “bunny busting,” aka hunting, and at one time owned several large Mack Trucks. He went skinny dipping in the ocean whenever he could get away with it, while my mom sat on the beach utterly appalled. He smoked huge Cuban cigars. He once injured his back by picking up and carrying a refrigerator. Almost cut his leg off with a machete while trimming a tree. After a full day of laying heavy concrete block in the scorching Miami sun, he went to night school. Once class at a time, for eleven years to get his Masters. He saved up, then moved a family of six to Tallahassee and got his PhD in two years.

We moved to LA in 64 because my dad got a job at UCLA. My dad’s major hobby was drinking, but he met his match in B. Lamar Johnson and his circle. It seemed like my parents had a lot of parties. Pretty much if you crossed the threshold of our house, they knew what you drank, they had it in stock, and they would hand it to you right at the door. Only then would you walk into the living room. These were the days when guests would get so drunk, they would put lampshades on their heads, and would walk into my mom’s paintings. I noticed that my dad hardly ever said anything. He liked to be around a lot of people, but he just liked to listen or be there. He did not have to be the life of the party. More like a silent cat that sat five feet away from another silent cat under a car. In our teenage years, my brothers and sisters and I spent just about every night in a living room full of card players in a mini tournament, just like the bridge club he went to. As a life master of bridge, he was a formidable card player. He flew continuously around the country and around the world going to lectures and conferences. He would even take a plane to help someone with a construction project. That’s a lot of socializing for a guy who said almost nothing in a group.

When I was young, my mom would show me a picture of my dad, or a book he wrote, and she would say to me, “See this? Your dad’s a great man.” She even had bronze sculpture made of his head – a portrait bust. But in our whole large house in Westwood, outside of his clothes, 100% of his belongings fit in the smallest top drawer of one dresser.

Throughout my life my dad was always there for me. And believe me, as a member of the Psychedelic Generation, I was a little rebel and I was a handful. He had an unusual amount of control over his temper to be able to rescue me from my antics and I have to thank him for it. He was a very quiet, serious guy, but you couldn’t have a better dad, or friend. I am sorry to lose the major person in my life.

After I grew up, I visited with my dad very often. Almost every time he left my house, or I came home from his house, I would find a little note he wrote, thanking me for the visit. He really appreciated the connection. Just as he appreciated being with all of you.

Well, one day we will probably be together here again, to remember our little community.

Art Cohen Continuing Memorial
by Carrie Kisker
In 1964, upon receipt of a doctorate in higher education from Florida State University, Art took his first and only professional post as professor of education at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he remained until he retired in 2004. Much has been written about his time in UCLA’s Moore Hall—indeed in 2007 an entire volume of the Community College Review was dedicated to “The Scholarly Contributions of Arthur M. Cohen”—but highlights include the establishment of the ERIC Clearinghouse for Community Colleges in 1966, the launch of Jossey-Bass’ New Directions for Community Colleges series in 1973, the creation of the Center for the Study of Community Colleges in 1974, and the numerous books and widely-cited research reports he published on the community college enterprise, both on his own and with his beloved wife and colleague, Dr. Florence B. Cohen (1923-2014).

Art Cohen was a prolific scholar: 21 books; more than 80 book chapters, journal articles, and essays in edited volumes; and still more conferences papers, journalistic pieces, and research reports for the Center for the Study of Community Colleges than is possible to count. Indeed, as his former students and community college scholars Dr. Jan Ignash (retired vice chancellor for academic and student affairs, State University System of Florida, Board of Governors), and Dr. Jim Palmer (professor emeritus at Illinois State University) wrote in 2007, “The fact that today we can even speak of ‘the field of community college studies’ is in large part due to the work of Arthur Cohen. He was interested in the community college at a time when it was finding its place within the U.S. system of higher education institutions, perceived by some as the ‘stepchild’ of higher education, by others as an extension of secondary education, and by still others as ‘career academies.’ Cohen helped shape the perception—and acceptance—of the community college as a true collegiate institution.”

Art’s most indelible mark on the field, however, was his impact on students—and he considered all of us his students, whether yours was one of the nearly 75 dissertations he chaired, or if he simply commented on your seminar paper or conference presentation. With an historian’s memory for dates and facts, and an unabashed distaste for pretentious or overly theoretical language, Art was consistently candid (occasionally gruff!), sometimes critical, yet always fair. Compliments from Dr. Cohen—for no one who had not yet earned their doctorate had the right to call him “Art”—were high praise indeed, as they were not issued unless they were earned. But when a compliment was handed out… you really knew you had done something right.

Perhaps the most striking illustration of Art Cohen’s impact on the field is the number of students whose career trajectories began like Carol Kozeracki’s (dean of academic affairs at East Los Angeles College), who acknowledged that “having entered UCLA’s Graduate School of Education… I had no understanding of the significance of community colleges’ role in higher education, and certainly no interest in focusing my research or career prospects on these institutions.” Or Leslie Purdy’s, president emeritus of Coastline Community College, who wrote that “When I enrolled [in the doctoral program at UCLA]… I was not very familiar with the mission and practices of those institutions. However… it did not take me long to be drawn to Art Cohen’s teaching about, research on, and passion for community colleges. Little did I know then that I would spend my entire professional life working in community colleges, applying many of the ideas and concepts I learned from him in graduate school.”

Like Drs. Kozeracki and Purdy, who went on to become community college leaders, Art inspired several generations of UCLA graduate students to become community college administrators, university faculty, state-level education policy officers, and independent researchers. And beyond Art’s graduate students at UCLA, there are the thousands of community college faculty and administrators and higher education policymakers who read one of six editions of The American Community College (first published by Jossey-Bass in 1982, last published in 2014), The Shaping of American Higher Education (1998 and 2010), or the many other publications by Cohen and Brawer. It is safe to say that Arthur M. Cohen will remain one of the most recognizable and respected names in higher education for many decades to come.

In addition to his professional work, Art was a proud husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather; an ardent gardener; a master mason; an Italophile; and along with his wife Florence, a passionate collector of art, particularly sculpture. Upon Florence’s death in 2014, Art donated their entire sculpture collection to the Luskin Conference Center at UCLA, where seven abstract sculptures by Minoru Niizuma, several from prominent sculpture artist Jack Zajac—with whom they became good friends—and others by Sorel Etrog and Dimitri Hadzi are on permanent display.

Arthur M. Cohen will be remembered fondly by fellow members of the Council for the Study of Community Colleges, many of whom are his former students, and all of whom hold the greatest admiration for him and the body of work he created and inspired.

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Geraldine Otremba shared a photo.


The message below was written by my husband, Stan Turesky; our shared affection for Arthur extended over 40 years. Gerry Otremba

Geraldine Otremba


For Gerry and I, the proper remembrance is for Florence and Arthur. Their’s was a second union of mind and spirit, of love and prolific and groundbreaking research and advocacy on an institution, community and two-year colleges, that remains underutilized.

Our relationship began shortly after I joined the staff of the National Endowment of the Humanities as its director of planning. I was the first social scientist hired and given the expressed role on helping NEH better document the needs of those disciplines, institutions, and public resources that comprise the humanities.

When I arrived there were clear projects awaiting me: the role of university presses and the rising costs of scholarly publishing; beyond academic employment and what were the rest of humanities’ PhD’s doing professionally? A sole National Council member, Leslie Koltai welcomed me and asked the question, “what was the role for the humanities in two year college education?

Two weeks later, Arthur Cohen knocked on my door offering to help NEH answer that question. We started with a small planning grant and his chaperoning me on a series of site visits to two-year colleges. It led to an analysis of NEH’s programs and the adaptation of fellowship programs and grants on curriculum, and public outreach programs and in the State of Washington’s 16 community colleges a comprehensive assessment of what they were doing and improvements that were needed.

Over that decade, Art and Florence guided and documented the efforts. They engaged the Washington education associations, the Hill, and the grandmother of all educational matters, the Department of Education and their State siblings.

Of course, Art and Flo became our good friends. Gerry and I mourned Flo’s death and its obvious impact on Art. On our last visit with Arthur, so much of the discussion was about our past efforts, but we met the wonderful Kingsbury family next door whose three children kept Art spry and enjoying what only youth can provide.

A belated note to express thanks to Art and Flo for enriching our lives and that of the Nation.

Geraldine Otremba


Sarah kingsbury shared a photo.


Sarah kingsbury shared a photo.


Sarah kingsbury shared a photo.


Sarah kingsbury shared a photo.


RIP Art from your old advisee Bill. Thanks for encouraging me in my studies at UCLA. It took another guy from Florida, I guess, to show me how incredible the American West is, and California in particular. Art, you opened up our field to lots and lots of people and I imagine they are as grateful to you as I am--you changed many lives for the better. Rest in peace,

-- Bill.

William Purdy


Remembering with Bridget and Sarah how Art used to break into song at the least (or no apparent) provocation -

Pam Schuetz


I'm remembering that Florence and Art were great art collectors - in particular, that their home was filled with beautiful sculptures. Recently, Art wanted the collection to be housed where a larger audience could view and enjoy it - so he gifted many pieces to the UCLA Luskin Conference Center.

Fittingly, Bernie Luskin (the man behind the Luskin Center) was one of Art's first students and the Center is dedicated to "leading academic minds, medical innovators, researchers, political leaders and social visionaries meet[ing] to exchange ideas that will move our world forward."

Living not far from UCLA, Art enjoyed visiting his sculptures, chatting with staff and lunching at the Luskin Center with friends, often saying “I’ve got them in a second home” at the conference center. And we have somewhere to enjoy memories of Art and Florence (

Pam Schuetz


Oops, my mistake - Meyer and Renee are the Luskins who sponsored the Luskin Center and have Art and Florence's sculptures on display. Bernie was a student back in the day...

Pam Schuetz