Univ. benefactor Carl Shapiro dies at 108

March 12, 2021

Carl Shapiro H’03 passed away on March 7 at 108 years old. Shapiro and his family were benefactors of the university since the founding of Brandeis and have donated more than $72 million to the university throughout the years, according to a BrandeisNOW article

Shapiro and his late wife Ruth Shapiro, who passed away in 2012, first donated to the university in 1950, making a $10 donation, according to an email sent out by President Ron Liebowitz on March 9 to the Brandeis community. Shapiro has since been one of the “most generous benefactor[s], who had a tremendous impact on this institution,” according to Liebowtiz. 

In his email, Liebowtiz wrote that the Shapiro name is all across the campus. In the email, he cites the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Campus Center, the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Admissions Center and the Carl J. Shapiro Science Center, which are all located on campus. 

Shapiro did not attend the university since it had not yet been founded, according to the article. He became involved in the university during its founding due to the exclusionary practices used in other top tier higher education institutions at the time, which prevented certain groups from attending, according to the article. The university was founded by the American Jewish community who faced hardships in admittance to higher education at the time, according to the article.

Shapiro served on the university’s Board of Trustees from 1979 to 1988, according to a BrandeisNOW article. He was given the honorary title of trustee emeritus, which placed him as a chair of the Campaign for Brandeis, according to the article. Shapiro was given an honorary humane letters degree by the university in 2003, according to the university’s honorary degree recipients page

“We are grateful for and inspired by the legacy Mr. Shapiro and his family have built here at Brandeis,” wrote Liebowitz in his email. 

Shapiro donated to many beneficiaries through the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family Foundation.  Shapiro and his late wife launched the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family Foundation in 1961, according to the foundation’s page, of which Shapiro was chairman. One of the first major gifts made by the foundation was to the university, according to The Boston Globe obituary for Shapiro

The foundation continues to help beneficiaries in the Great Boston Area, supporting arts and culture, education, health and hospitals, Jewish causes and social welfare programs, according to the page.  

The Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family Foundation makes grant donations in four main areas of interest: disability inclusion, youth in the arts, early childhood and empowerment, according to their page. The foundation has contributed to the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Massachusetts Advocates for Children, Boston Impact Initiative and many other programs, according to their page

Shapiro’s impact on the university continued with his three daughters: late Rhonda Zinner, Ellen Jaffe and Linda Waintrup, according to the BrandeisNOW article. Zinner, who passed away in 2014, sat on the Board of Trustees and was vice-chair of the Heller Schools Board of Overseers, according to the article. Waintrup served on the Board of Advisors for The Rose Art Museum, according to the article 
The Carl J. Shapiro Memorial Fund has been set up in the late benefactor’s name in honor of the legacy and impact he has had on the university, according to the memorial fund page. Donations can be made to support the fund, according to the page.

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