By: Shane Roerk
President James Ramsey announced the official creation of a new endowed chair being commissioned for the university.
The endowed chair for Judaic Studies will be the newest addition to the university’s humanities department. Dr. Elaine Wise, the newly appointed chair and professor for the department, hoped the contribution would “enlarge the scope of the religious studies program at the university.” The chair and the resulting program would allow for a full-time faculty member to teach the modern Hebrew language and allow for the opportunity for students to receive a graduate level certificate in religious studies that would complement their Ph. D. program.
“Jewish culture has a rich history and heritage not fully explored,” said Wise. The culture is “not fully celebrated” here at the university, according to Wise.
With new core faculty, the department would be able to study further modern Jewish culture and the culture of the Jewish community here in Louisville. Louis Waterman, chairman of the Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence, agreed that the chair would provide for “study of the Jewish culture, and its culture here in Louisville.”
University Vice President for Advancement Keith Inman said he hoped the creation of the endowed chair would make a “strong connection to the Jewish community in Louisville.” The newly endowed chair was the result of fifteen years of ongoing teamwork between university officials and the local Jewish community in Louisville. Waterman’s Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence was a main contributor to the project, reflecting its previous aid to the university in the creation of grants for medical research. Of the $2.5 million donated to create the chair, $1.15 million was from Waterman’s group’s funding alone.
Inman stated that the $2.5 million makes the newly anointed endowed chair for Judaic Studies one to be reckoned with, with a 250% increase in funding from most endowed chairs which gross at average approximately $1 million. Ramsey said the collaboration will result in a “world class endowed chair at the University of Louisville.”
Wise expressed her hopes to get work started and have the program’s first steps to implementation completed soon.
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