The University Record, November 22, 1999

Community Service and Learning Center named for activist Ginsberg

By Judy Malcolm
Office of Development Communications

The Edward Ginsberg Center for Community Service and Learning is housed in the former Madelon Pound House on Hill St. Photo by Bob Kalmbach
The University’s Center for Community Service and Learning has received a $5 million gift for endowment to honor alumnus Edward Ginsberg, a Cleveland corporate and real estate lawyer and internationally noted humanitarian who died in 1997. The endowment gift was made by his son William and wife, Inger, and other members of the Ginsberg family to recognize Edward Ginsberg’s commitment to community service and humanitarian causes.

In announcing the gift at the November Regents’ meeting, President Lee C. Bollinger said, “The University of Michigan has a long history of learning from community service, from its 19th-century roots in the educational efforts of John Dewey, a professor at Michigan, who taught that students learn by doing in their community, to John Kennedy’s announcement at the U-M of the concept of the Peace Corps, to the involvement of thousands of students today. This extraordinary gift will ensure that the Center can carry on this proud tradition and will honor one of the University’s own, whose example of leadership will inspire generations of Michigan students.”

The Regents approved the renaming of the Center as the Edward Ginsberg Center for Community Service and Learning with Regent Olivia Maynard, who is co-chair of the Center’s National Board, noting, “I know from my own personal experience as a Michigan student that when community participation is an integral part of a university education, the effects can last a lifetime.”

Provost Nancy Cantor pointed out that the work of the Center is a strong component of the overall life of the University. “Studies show that participation in the community develops knowledge, practical skills and social responsibility. The Edward Ginsberg Center for Community Service and Learning is a vehicle for integrating community involvement in the curriculum. This gift will make it possible for even more students to have that educational experience.”

Barry Checkoway, Center director and professor of social work and of urban planning, said, “This generous gift will offer unprecedented opportunities to renew our efforts to prepare students for active participation in a democratic society. It will enable us to engage more students in communities, involve the faculty, and build collaborative partnerships that improve the quality of life and enhance the educational process.”

Edward Ginsberg’s life exemplified the values of community involvement and active citizenship that the Center named for him seeks to foster. He was born in Brooklyn, New York, and moved with his family to Cleveland, Ohio. He received a B.A. from the U-M in 1938 and a J.D. from Harvard University in 1941. He practiced law in Cleveland for more than 50 years.

Throughout his life, Ginsberg devoted himself to Israeli and Jewish activities in the U.S. and around the world. After World War II and service in the U.S. Army Air Force, he played an important role raising funds for the establishment and support of Israel, working directly with such world figures as Golda Meir and Itzak Rabin. In the 1960s and 70s, Ginsberg was a general chairman and then president of the national United Jewish Appeal, and chairman of the American Joint Distribution Committee.

Ginsberg was vice president of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency and a founder of the Cleveland Jewish News. He served as a life trustee of the Jewish Community Federation of Cleveland and was past president of the Fairmount Temple. He sponsored many educational programs at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, which made him an honorary fellow.

He received an honorary degree from Hebrew Union College, and the Jewish Community Federation Eisenman Award for humanitarianism.

Ginsberg was involved in many business activities, including directorships of El Al Israel Airlines and the First Israel Bank and Trust Co. A lifelong sports enthusiast, he was a partner in the New York Yankees and a past director of the Chicago Bulls.

On behalf of the family, William Ginsberg said: “My father believed that all of us have an obligation to return something to society, and his own deeds and accomplishments demonstrated his lifelong personal commitment to that belief. Our family hopes that the Center will inspire generations of young people to make service and compassion toward others a part of their own lives.”

Robert Ginsberg, his wife, Jan, and their two daughters all hold degrees from the U-M. Robert received an A.B. in 1968 and a J.D. in 1971; Jan Duboe Ginsberg received an A.B. in 1969; daughters Amy and Tracy received A.B. degrees in 1997 and 1993 respectively.

Variety of programs housed at Ginsberg Center

The Ginsberg Center brings together several of the nation’s leading curricular and co-curricular programs and undertakes new initiatives in communities in Michigan and nationwide. Project Community, which will celebrate its 40th anniversary this year, is a service-learning course that places more than 500 students in projects serving Southeast Michigan communities.

Project SERVE provides thousands of students with opportunities to address social issues through community service and social action. Alternative Spring Break engages nearly 500 students in such projects as serving in homeless shelters in Detroit, rehabilitating housing in Kentucky, resettling refugees in Miami, and tutoring children on a Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. The program is the largest of its kind in the country.

The Center also develops collaborative community partnerships, such as the Michigan Neighborhood AmeriCorps Program, a unique collaboration of several graduate professional schools—architecture and urban planning, business, information, law, public policy, public health and social work—and 20 community-based organizations in Detroit neighborhoods.

Through the Michigan America Reads Tutoring Corps U-M students help children learn how to read. In collaboration with the School of Education and Office of Financial Aid, work-study students serve more than 200 children in 10 schools in Ann Arbor, Detroit, Milan and Willow Run.

In a new initiative, the Michigan Community Service Corps student teams worked last summer with young people to revitalize neighborhoods in Benton Harbor, Flint, Saginaw and Marquette. The program will expand to eight other communities in 2000.

The Center also helps faculty members to integrate civic content into research and teaching, including faculty seminars on community-based research and the publication of the Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, the leading scholarly journal in the field.

The Center’s national board includes representatives from business, academe, foundations and community agencies. It is chaired by Eli Segal, president and chief executive officer of the Welfare to Work Partnership and founding CEO of the Corporation for National Service. Co-chairs are Regent Olivia Maynard and Ronald Weiser, an Ann Arbor business leader. The state of Michigan is represented by Michelle Engler.

“This generous gift,” Segal said, “will build on a proud tradition and enable the Center to extend its national leadership in strengthening service and learning on campus and in the community.”