JHFE grant completes funding for endowed chair of Jewish studies at UofL

JHFE grant completes funding for endowed chair of Jewish studies at UofL

On Thursday, October 10, the University of Louisville announced that it received a $1.15 million gift from the Louisville-based Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence, completing the funding needed to establish an endowed chair in Judaic Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences’ Division of Humanities.

The University began teaching Jewish Studies courses nearly a decade ago, and began planning for the endowed chair a few years later. The school applied for a grant from Kentucky’s Research Challenge Trust Fund, better known as the Bucks for Brains initiative, and received $500,000 on the condition that UofL raise matching funds. In 2005, the Jewish Community Federation, a predecessor organization of the Jewish Community of Louisville, provided that $500,000 match.

UofL added another $350,000 from a $25 million gift from the late Owsley Brown Frazier and local donors gave an additional $56,000 to the fund. With the JHFE grant, the total endowment is now more than $2.5 million – enough to hire a world-class scholar to fill this chair. UofL officials hope to launch a national search for the position in 2014.

“This endowed chair will fill an important 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,” President James Ramsey said.

The Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence chair in Judaic studies will work to raise awareness of Jewish religious and cultural heritage through a new annual lecture series and other programs.

“It’s very appropriate that our first major grant announcement supports both the Jewish community and the university,” said Louis Waterman, Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence board chair. “This new chair will ensure that there is a focused study of Jewish tradition and thought with scholarly expertise in Jewish religious traditions for UofL students.”

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 programs in Jewish history and culture for several years.

For more information about the gift, contact Jeff Polson, executive director, Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence, at 365-3209 or jpolson@jewishheritagefund.com. For information on the chair position, contact Elaine Wise, who chairs the Division of Humanities, at 852-7149 or elaine.wise@louisville.edu.

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