Richard Sugarman (born July 12, 1944) is an American academic and political consultant. He is a professor of religion at the University of Vermont and "a world-renowned expert on the Lithuanian-born philosopher Emmanuel Levinas." He was an advisor to presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on his 2016 presidential campaign.
Richard Sugarman was born in Buffalo, New York. He is of Ukrainian Jewish descent on his paternal side and of English Jewish descent on his maternal side. His father's family were Hasidic Jews; his mother was a Reform Jew. His father was a serial entrepreneur.
Sugarman received his B.A. cum laude in philosophy from Yale University in 1966; his roommate was Joe Lieberman, who later served as United States Senator. One of his professors was John Daniel Wild, and he also was mentored by Paul Weiss. After serving as a Carnegie Teaching Fellow in philosophy at Yale during the 1966-1967 academic year, he went on to receive an M.A. from Yale in 1969 and a Ph.D. from Boston University in 1976, both in philosophy. His thesis was entitled, Toward a Phenomenology of Ressentiment.
Following his Carnegie Fellowship, Sugarman resumed teaching as an part-time instructor of philosophy and religion at the University of Vermont in 1970. He became a full-time instructor of philosophy and religion in 1971 before moving to the newly-formed religion department in 1974. In addition to receiving tenure in 1978, he was subsequently promoted to assistant professor (1976), associate professor (1986) and professor (2002) of religion. The author of several books, he specializes in the interstices between phenomenology, Jewish philosophy, existentialism, and ancient and modern humanities. He is also "a world-renowned expert on the Lithuanian-born philosopher Emmanuel Levinas."
Sugarman has a wife, Linda, and three children. They reside in Burlington, Vermont. Sugarman has arthritis. He is an Orthodox Jew and attended Congregation Ahavath Gerim. He is also an "unapologetic Zionist."
One of Sanders' best friends of 40 years is a professor of religion and philosophy at the University of Vermont. Richard Sugarman, an Orthodox Jew, says his friend is a secularist, a humanist — with no connection to organized religion.
It was Sugarman who, in 1981, persuaded Sanders to run for mayor of Burlington, the rural city 40 miles from the Canadian border where the pair were roommates.