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Univ. received $16.5 million for endowed professorships

Ron Liebowitz, university president, announced that the university received five separate donor gifts accumulating to $16.5 million in this fiscal year, according to an email sent to community members on Sep. 7. The money will be spent on establishing four new faculty chair positions, according to the email. 

“I am delighted to share more information with you about the five endowed professorships that came to fruition during the last five months of the fiscal year. Brandeis has received five separate gifts totaling $16.5 million to establish four new faculty chairs – one each in African and African American studies, mathematics, Israeli politics and society, and business – as well as an endowed position to lead an integrated center for Jewish studies,” reads the email.

The donations are called an “unprecedented burst of community support,” according to the official announcement on the university’s alumni page. The five donations were made independently from one another, according to the announcement, of the five donations three came from alumnae of the university. 

Bonnie Berger ’83— the Simons Professor of Mathematics at Massachusetts Insitute of Technology (MIT)made the donation with her husband Tom Leighton to create a junior professorship in the university’s Mathematics Department, according to the announcement. In the announcement, it reads that Berger expressed “[excitement] to help grow the department’s impact long into the future,” through the funding from her donation. 

“The Berger-Leighton Endowed Professorship will advance the department’s research missions, enabling it to recruit high-caliber junior faculty and attract and retain more undergraduate and graduate students,” according to the announcement

Barbara E Clark, IBS MA ’91, made a gift to the university to establish a Distinguished Brandeis Faculty Chair in Business, according to the announcement. Clark—an economist, investor and entrepreneur— made a $4 million dollar donation to create the position, according to a release article. 

“The Distinguished Brandeis Faculty Chair in Business will support a senior faculty member from a historically underrepresented population in the fields of business, finance or economics. The chairholder will be a distinguished scholar who has made outstanding contributions to teaching and research in their discipline,” according to an alumni article

Clark also made a $25,000 donation for the Peace Scolarship—a fund for students who have been displaced from their countries due to conflict, according to a previous Brandeis Hoot article

Belinda Frankel—president of the Raymond Frankel Foundation and daughter of the foundation’s founder — made a donation to establish the Raymond Frankel Chair in Israeli Politics and Society in the Crown Center for Middle East Studies, according to a Brandeis alumni article.

The donation was a $3 million gift to establish the chair position, according to an announcement on the Crown Center website. The first person to serve in the chair position will be Shai Feldman, the founding director of the Crown Center.

Marta Kauffman ’78, H’20—a television writer and producer known for co-creating the sitcoms “Friends” and “Grace and Frankie”—also contributed a donation to the university, according to the article. According to a previous Brandeis Hoot article, Kauffman reflected on the backlash she received for the lack of representation on the show “Friends” which sparked her decision to create this donation.

According to the announcement of the donation, which is an investment in the university, “follows a period of self-examination, a time informed by her own experiences and current events.” 

Kauffman pledged $4 million to the university to create the professorship in African and African American Studies, according to the article

Jeannie and Jonathan Lavine established the Lavine Family Professor and Director of the Center for Jewish Studies through their donation to the university, according to the article. The Lavine’s donation was made to help keep the founding president—Abram L. Sachar’s—ideals about being “vitally concerned with Jewish studies,” according to the article

“The new directorship will promote collaboration among faculty and researchers across campus who conduct research on and teach about Jewish history, culture, religion, politics, gender, business, and the state of Israel,” according to the article

All of the donations made will help support the university’s Framework for the Future, according to Liebowitz’s email.



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