Middle East studies in the News
Couple Bequeath $5m to Support Jewish Programs at UMass-Amherst
by Rosa Nguyen
Two alumni have bequeathed $5 million to the University of Massachusetts at Amherst for scholarships and an endowed faculty chair in Judaic and Near Eastern Studies, and for programming in the Institute for Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies.
The gift, granted by Pamela and Robert Jacobs, also provides support for UMass Hillel, which offers resources to Jewish students.
The bequest is part of the $300 million UMass Rising fund-raising campaign, to which the Jacobses have already donated $250,000. Half of the bequest, $2.5 million, will be used to create the Pamela M. and Robert D. Jacobs Chair in Judaic and Near Eastern Studies within the College of Humanities and Fine Arts.
"There's a Jewish word -- tzedakah -- which means doing good works," Pamela Jacobs said by phone Tuesday. "We wanted to support these programs and assure they would be part of the university as long as it exists."
Graduating with a bachelor's degree in English in 1969, Pamela Jacobs is a member of the board of directors of the UMass Amherst Foundation. Her husband, Robert Jacobs, received his bachelor's degree in government from the college in 1968. He helped found Rock Creek Partners LLC, a Washington, D.C.-based legal advisory and research firm.
When the couple met in college, Robert was a member of a Jewish fraternity, while Pamela belonged to a Jewish sorority. The school's fledgling Hillel program was still "very small," and the Judaic and Near Eastern Studies program had not yet been established.
"There was never this program when we were there," Pamela Jacobs said. "We want Jewish kids [on campus] to have a place to go."
Previously, the couple provided financial support to create the Center for Jewish Studies Endowment and the Robert and Pamela Jacobs Annual Lecture Series in Jewish Culture. They also provided early operating funds and a permanent endowment that enabled the Institute for Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies to open its doors.
Late last year, questions arose about the institute's future when a for-sale sign appeared on the front lawn, and the hunt for new donors intensified. An anonymous donor bought the North Pleasant Street property and donated it to the university.
Now, the Jacobses' bequest helps fund the institute's programming.
"The institute is one of a kind," Pamela Jacobs said. "It's free to the public and about 6,000 elementary and middle schoolchildren come through. It's a really remarkable program."Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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