The Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies (SCJS) at the University of Texas at Austin has matched a $6 million grant from the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Foundation, ensuring the continued growth of Jewish studies at the school. The additional funds will enable them to hire new faculty, expand course offerings and community programs, and reinvigorate an annual speaker series that brings luminaries of Jewish art, ideas and culture to Austin. More than 650 students are enrolled in Jewish studies courses each year.
The Center, a nexus for the study of Jewish thought, culture and history, places emphasis on the often-understudied areas of Jewish life in the Americas – in particular, Latin American Jewish Studies.
Taking advantage of its geography and diverse faculty and student body, SCJS offers courses on such topic as Latin American Jewish writers and has hosted visiting scholars including Argentine Jewish artist Mirta Kupferminc. Further, the Center works closely with the University of Texas’ nationally renowned Teresa Lozano Long Institute for Latin American Studies and Benson Latin American Collection, which has thousands of books, manuscripts and other holdings relevant to Latin American Jewish life. SCJS is also the host website for the Latin American Jewish Studies Association.
The Schusterman Center was able to match the grant through contributions from University of Texas at Austin alumni and the Beaumont-based Gale Foundation, which has committed more than $1 million. That money will be used to establish two new professorships and revive the Gale Lecture Series, which was a major campus event for more than 25 years.
Founded by Edwin and Becky Gale, the Gale Foundation has historically been the largest benefactor of Jewish studies at The University of Texas at Austin, establishing an endowment in the 1970s that funded a chaired professorship. That chair, and another endowed chair in the College of Liberal Arts, will now be brought into the Schusterman Center.
The Schusterman Center receives virtually no funding from the college, university or state.