SF State News {University Communications}

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News Release

SF State to receive $3.75 million from Goldman Fund for endowed chair in Israel Studies

Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund will transform Jewish Studies at SF State with the largest endowed chair gift ever received in the California State University system


SAN FRANCISCO, February 26, 2008 -- San Francisco State University today announced the establishment of an endowed chair in Israel Studies made possible by a $3.75 million gift from the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund. A portion of the endowment will be used to elevate Jewish Studies from program to department status.

The endowment will fund a new faculty position in Jewish Studies focusing on the scholarly study of Israel. The Richard and Rhoda Goldman Chair in Israel Studies will develop and deliver a curriculum that addresses the history, politics, culture and religions of Israel.

"Establishing a Chair in Israel Studies will add both depth and breadth to the Jewish Studies Program," said Fred Astren, professor and director of the Jewish Studies Program. "We have been working hard toward this goal for several years and are grateful to the Goldman Fund and our supporters who have made this possible."

Israel studies is an emerging academic field focusing on a multidisciplinary approach to Israel as a society and culture. The endowed chair will expand on the current faculty's expertise in Jewish literature, pre-modern Jewish history and American Jewish history, while also contributing to scholarly conversations across the University in such departments as political science, history, international relations and the emerging Middle East and Islamic Studies Program.

"As conflicts in the Middle East continue, it is vitally important to provide students with a deeper and more fully developed understanding of Israel. The purpose of this professorship is to accomplish that goal," said Richard N. Goldman, founder and president of the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund.

“I want to thank the Goldman Foundation for so generously expanding its visionary partnership with SF State," University President Robert A. Corrigan said. "The chair in Israel Studies will put us on the cutting edge of a new and exciting area of scholarship. It also will strengthen our longstanding commitment to keeping SF State a place where all ideas and points of view can be frankly and openly explored and where discourse remains civil.”

Part of the endowment will also provide support for the transformation of the Jewish Studies Program into an academic department -- the first Jewish Studies Department in the CSU system. It will also make SF State the only Bay Area university to have a free standing Department of Jewish Studies offering undergraduate study.

"Becoming a department reflects the maturity of the curriculum and programs that we have offered since 1993 and we are honored to be granted this solid institutional standing within the University," Astren said. "Planning is already underway to implement these new developments."

Recruitment of the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Professor in Israel Studies will begin in fall 2008, with the appointee expected to join the faculty in August 2009.

The Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund has contributed more than a half-billion dollars to a variety of charitable causes in the Bay Area, nationally and internationally. In 1997, SF State received a $1 million gift from the Fund to establish the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Chair in Jewish Studies and Social Responsibility, a position held by Professor Marc Dollinger. This academic year, a grant from the Goldman Fund is supporting the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Visiting Professor in Israel Studies, an initiative which was the prototype for establishing the permanent endowed chair in Israel studies.


Founded in 1993, the SF State Jewish Studies Program attracts a diverse group of students from many racial and ethnic backgrounds, including participants in the University's community outreach programs. Students learn about the history, culture, contributions, and religion of the Jewish people. The program offers a bachelors degree in modern Jewish studies, a minor in Jewish studies and a certificate in Jewish service learning.

For interviews with Fred Astren, professor and director of the Jewish Studies Program, contact Elaine Bible in University Communications at (415) 405-3606 or ebible@sfsu.edu

For more information about the Goldman Fund, contact Natalie Silverstein, communications officer for the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund at (415) 345-6331 or natalie@goldmanprize.org


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