The Crown family of Chicago, prominent benefactors of the University, presented the school with a major donation of an undisclosed amount last week. This money will go toward solidifying a permanent place on campus for the Crown Center for Middle East Studies, including possible renovations to Schwartz Hall, as well as creating three new endowed faculty chairs.
The majority of the new construction would occur in the aging Schwartz Hall, with the creation of a new level as well as necessary improvements to replace the old heating, air conditioning and ventilation systems serving Schwartz and the adjacent Brown Social Science Center, according to BrandeisNOW. The expectations are that the new level will contain not only the permanent home for the Crown Center, but also will serve as additional space on campus to be used by the Office of the Provost. The renovations would also include provisions for an elevator and full-access to both buildings for disabled individuals, as well as two new classrooms which may house advanced technologies that integrate media and collaborative learning, according to an article on BrandeisNOW.
The Crowns have earned a reputation as being generous benefactors at several prestigious universities. The family first contributed to Brandeis in 1968, with the establishment of the Irving and Rose Crown School of Graduate Studies in American Civilization. With their first contribution, the Crowns also fostered the Crown Fellows program, which continues to this day. These fellowships aid students who are working on their doctorates. With this most recent gift, the Fellows program has been updated. According to the Fellowship website, all Crown Fellows will receive $25,000 stipends for living expenses (adjusted annually for increases in the cost of living), up to $6,000 in summer research grants, university health coverage and full tuition. The fellows can receive this support for up to five years.
In a recent BrandeisNOW article, President Lawrence commented, "The Crown family's extraordinary generosity is matched by their vision for what a great research university can be." He also noted that the Crown Center will ensure that Brandeis remains a leading institute for Middle East studies as well as a top-ranked research institution.
Another purpose of this donation was to establish three endowed faculty chairs. As of right now, only one of the chairs has been filled. The first chair, the Charles (Corky) Goodman Chair in Middle East History, has been filled by Prof. Naghmeh Sohrabi, (HIST) who delivered her inaugural lecture as the Chair last Tuesday in Rapaporte Treasure Hall.
The occupants of the other two chairs have not yet been determined; final decisions will be based on selected areas of study. According to BrandeisNOW, Shai Feldman, the Judith and Sidney Swartz Director of the Crown Center, said the possible study areas are: Syria and Lebanon, Turkey, the politics of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states and sectarianism, tribalism and ethnicity in the Middle East.
Provost Steve Goldstein '78 commented in the BrandeisNOW article on the merits of the Crowns' contribution and Brandeis as a whole. "This demonstrates what our centers and interdisciplinary programs can do for us, strengthening areas of distinction and the core by bringing endowed positions to the schools, enhancing our capacity in areas where we define the cutting edge, enriching the academic milieu, and renewing the campus for everyone."
nction and the core by bringing endowed positions to the schools, enhancing our capacity in areas where we define the cutting edge, enriching the academic milieu, and renewing the campus for everyone," said Goldstein.