Syracuse University

SU News

SU one of six institutions receiving national Judaic studies matching grant

January 21, 2010

Rob Enslin
(315) 443-3403

The Judaic Studies Program at Syracuse University has received a $50,000 matching grant from the Foundation for Jewish Culture (FJC) to hire a postdoctoral teaching fellow in fall 2010. The grant is part of the FJC’s Jewish Studies Expansion Program (JSEP), supporting learning and engagement at institutions with small or underresourced Jewish studies programs. A JESP matching grant permits the hire of a two-year postdoctoral teaching fellow who helps expand the number of courses offered and raise the profile of Jewish studies through cultural programs and other campus activities.

“The grant is good news for us and for The College of Arts and Sciences, which offers an array of interdisciplinary programs,” says Harvey Teres, associate professor of English and director of the Judaic Studies Program. “It will provide an essential impetus for us to expand, to better serve our students and community partners, and to attract more resources to build a program commensurate with the needs of a large Jewish student population that is equal to some of the best programs in the country. It also supports our goal of becoming the nation’s premier residential liberal arts college.”

The grant comes in the form of the Jim Joseph Teaching Fellowship, enabling the Judaic Studies Program to hire a postdoctoral scholar to teach eight courses over a two-year span. “The new hire will be a dynamic individual with excellent academic credentials,” says Teres. “The grant and the position it supports will further raise the visibility of our program on campus and beyond.”

SU was one of six institutions selected on the basis of academic excellence and student diversity. Others in the 2010-12 cohort are the University of California, Santa Cruz; Portland State University; the University of Arizona; Oberlin College; and Colgate University. Support for the grant comes from the Washington, D.C.-based Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation and from the San Francisco-based Jim Joseph Foundation.

“At this time of economic uncertainty for colleges and universities, the commitment of both the Schusterman and Jim Joseph foundations underscores the importance of providing undergraduates with substantive Jewish educational opportunities on campuses across the country,” says FJC President and CEO Elise Bernhardt.

Teres is quick to acknowledge the efforts of former program director Ken Frieden, who holds the B.G. Rudolph Chair in Judaic Studies and serves as professor of English; religion; and languages, literatures and linguistics. “I want to thank Ken, without whose efforts over the years we would have never received this grant. It was under his leadership that we applied to the FJC and through his persistence that we were selected,” Teres says.

Established in 2008 with a $1 million grant from the Schusterman foundation, JESP has increased enrollments in Jewish studies by 46 percent, with some 60 percent of students reporting they had not taken a Jewish studies course before. Studies also show that JESP courses both stimulate interest in Jewish studies on a personal and academic level and foster tolerance and understanding on campus among non-Jews. “These courses have a positive impact on everyone, including Jewish students not otherwise engaged in Jewish life on campus,” says Teres. “I am grateful to FJC for their support and for the opportunity to lead a program that is emphatically on the move and is on the cusp of achieving great things locally and nationally.”

Judaic studies is an all-University interdisciplinary program, administered by The College of Arts and Sciences.

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