University and Jewish community officials announced Oct. 10 that a $1.15 million gift from the Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence marks the final piece of funding needed to create the position.
An initial gift of $500,000 from the Jewish Community of Louisville (formerly known as the Jewish Community Federation) was given to the university in 2005 and was matched by Bucks for Brains funds. UofL added another $350,000 from a $25 million gift from the late Owsley Brown Frazier and local donors gave an additional $56,000 raising the total endowment to more than $2.5 million.
The Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence chair in Judaic studies will be part of the College of Arts and Sciences’ Division of Humanities. A national search will begin in 2014 for a qualified scholar who is expected to promote Judaic culture and heritage through various programs, including a new annual lecture series, and to help raise public awareness of Jewish religious and cultural heritage.
“The endowed chair in Judaic studies will fill a need in our religious studies program at UofL and give students an opportunity to learn about Jewish culture, history and accomplishments—including those in Louisville—as they work toward a degree,” said President James Ramsey.
“It’s very appropriate that our first major grant announcement supports both the Jewish community and the University of Louisville,” said Louis Waterman, board chair of the Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence. “We’re thrilled that the Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence Endowed Chair in Judaic Studies will ensure that there is a focused study of Jewish tradition and thought with scholarly expertise in Jewish religious traditions for the students at UofL.”
The College of Arts and Sciences approved a Jewish studies minor in its religious studies program in 2005, and a faculty committee has been offering UofL programming in Jewish history and culture for several years.