Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation helps initiate $12 million Center for Jewish Studies at The University of Texas at Austin

May 1, 2006

AUSTIN, Texas—The Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation has given a $6 million challenge grant to help create a $12 million Center for Jewish Studies at The University of Texas at Austin.

“As one of the premier universities in the world, with more than 4,000 Jewish students, The University of Texas at Austin is the ideal venue for a world-class Jewish studies center that will enhance the understanding and celebration of Jewish life,” said Lynn Schusterman, president of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation. “We look forward to the center becoming an international beacon for Jewish studies.”

The College of Liberal Arts has committed to raising an additional $6 million over the next five years to establish the Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies, which will be housed within its new Department of Religious Studies. In addition to the university’s Jewish Studies offerings, the center will support three new endowed chairs in Jewish history, Jewish thought and in text studies as well as two professorships in social science and literature. The center will also offer scholarships to attract and retain outstanding students in Jewish studies, endowments for special events, symposia, exhibits and lecture series, and program funding to support faculty research and travel.

“We are grateful to the Schusterman Family Foundation for its vision and generosity, which will help the university establish an outstanding Center for Jewish Studies,” said Richard W. Lariviere, dean of the College of Liberal Arts. “This will be the first center of its kind in the state and region, and it will play a pivotal role in fostering appreciation and understanding at the university, throughout the Southwest region and nationally, of Jewish history, culture and religion, and the Jewish contribution to Western civilization.”

“This is a threshold moment for us at UT, the fruit of much effort and planning,” said Adam Z. Newton, acting director for the Jewish Studies Program. “The center will make a name for itself as a bridge for students across the university and its many disciplines to enter into dialogue with the range and depth of Jewish culture.”

The Schusterman Center will complement important resources in place at the university, including the Hebrew Studies program, the university libraries’ extensive Judaica collections and the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center’s Gottesman collection and archives of notable Jewish writers Isaac Bashevis Singer, Bernard Malamud and Leon Uris. These collections and resources for Jewish Studies attract scholars from around the world, and faculty members at the university incorporate the materials in their teaching for undergraduate and graduate students.

The University of Texas at Austin will be seeking job applicants in the coming months for a director and a faculty chair.

For more information contact: Kathleen Aronson, assistant dean of development, College of Liberal Arts, 512-475-9763.