A $15 million donation from a national philanthropic organization with strong ties to the University will fund the creation of the Center for Israel Studies, an institute dedicated to improving scholarship on the state of Israel.
The Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation committed to the grant, the largest in the organization's 20-year history, in June, according to a University press release.
The University will provide matching funds with the goal of establishing a $30 million endowment for the Center over the next eight years.
Prof. Selwyn Troen (NEJS) has been named director of the Center, which will work to broaden the scope of Israel studies by supporting scholarship in a variety of fields, including politics, anthropology and economics, John Hose, Reinharz' assistant, said.
The Center will serve as "a major center to focus scholarship on a serious study of Israel in the broadest possible dimensions," Hose said.
The new institute represents the second collaboration between the University and the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation. For the past three years, the foundation, which supports Jewish programs across the country, has funded the Summer Institute for Israel Studies, an annual seminar at the University that trains academics in the field of Israel scholarship.
"This Center is the perfect marriage of a university committed to creating and disseminating knowledge and a philanthropist interested in making that knowledge available to the wider public," University President Jehuda Reinharz said in the press release.
Reinharz first hatched the idea for the Center while hiking in Aspen with Lynn Schusterman, said Lisa Eisen, the foundation's national program director.
"Our primary goal is to help train a new generation of scholars who can help teach about modern Israel," Eisen said. "Our sense from surveying the landscape is that there is a dearth of scholars who are trained to teach modern Israel."
Eisen said her organization anticipates that in addition to training faculty, the Center will disseminate information to a broad audience through public forums, lectures and film series in addition to training faculty.
"We're…very hopeful that the center will be sort of a hub for teaching and learning," she said, adding, "The effects will be felt well beyond the Brandeis community."