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Updated 10:00 AM February 28, 2005




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Frankel family gives $20 million to Judaic Studies at U-M

A $20 million gift from the Samuel and Jean Frankel Jewish Heritage Foundation will establish the Frankel Institute for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University.

The gift is the largest dedicated to Judaic studies at any university, and the largest ever to LSA. The institute will reside within the existing Frankel Center for Judaic Studies.

The new institute annually will bring to Ann Arbor 14 of the world's leading scholars from a variety of disciplines to collaborate in advancing scholarly research on the history, culture, literature, and religion of the Jews from antiquity to the present. It will be one of only a handful of such institutes in the world. The gift is expected to establish the institute as the largest of its kind and enable it to develop into one of the most prestigious.

The gift from U-M alumnus Samuel and alumna Jean Frankel represents the latest chapter in the family's long history of involvement with Judaic studies at U-M. Noting their 1988 collaboration with the Detroit Jewish Welfare Federation that provided a $2 million gift to establish the Frankel Center for Judaic Studies, Samuel Frankel says that the most recent gift continues this tradition of support.

"We have worked in close partnership with the University of Michigan to build an outstanding Center for Judaic Studies," Frankel said. "Our partnership created the vision for the institute, which will take the existing center and the field of study to a new level. We are tremendously fortunate to have the means to make it a reality."

President Mary Sue Coleman said she is grateful, not only for the Frankel family's generosity in supporting numerous programs throughout the University over many years, but also for the transformative role they are playing in the current fundraising campaign, The Michigan Difference. In addition to providing their own gifts, Sam and Jean's son Stanley is a vice chair of the campaign, and their daughter-in-law Maxine is a co-chair of the University's $2.5 billion fundraising effort.

"The University of Michigan is delighted and grateful for the latest wonderful gift from this quietly generous couple, Jean and Sam Frankel," Coleman said. "While they have been longtime supporters of the University in a wide variety of areas, this gift particularly is fitting because it will enhance the study of Jewish culture and civilization, a lifetime commitment of this outstanding philanthropic family."

LSA Dean Terrence J. McDonald said he is pleased that the Frankels are continuing to build upon their pioneering efforts in the college, begun more than a decade ago with the establishment of the Frankel Center for Judaic Studies.

"We are extremely grateful for the Frankels' vision and generosity," McDonald said. "This new, extraordinary gift will firmly establish U-M as the nation's preeminent center for scholarly research in Jewish studies. In so doing, it will add greatly to LSA's already strong reputation among America's elite liberal arts colleges as a leader in innovative, interdisciplinary teaching and research."

Todd Endelman, professor of history and director of the Frankel Center for Judaic Studies, sees the gift as a unique opportunity.

"While almost every other program in the country has the resources to bring one or possibly two visiting Jewish studies professors to campus for a semester or even a year, we will soon have the ability to host 14 scholars for an entire academic year—every year—to share, debate and test ideas in ways that will advance knowledge in the many fields making up Jewish studies," Endelman said. "The energy and excitement that we expect will be kindled will be felt far beyond the University of Michigan."

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