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SFSU Magazine Online, Spring/Summer  2004, Volume 4, Number 1.

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Campus Beat LogoA headshot of a smiling Edward Kaufmann.

A Legacy of Learning

The late Edward Burton Kaufmann was a humanist with an intellect so formidable that even today his friends let out a small gasp when they speak of it.

"His knowledge of music -- absolutely inexhaustible," says Raoul Bertrand, a professor emeritus of classics and one of Kaufmann's closest friends.

Music, art, literature and philosophy -- Kaufmann did not embrace his passions so much as devour them. A Bach lover who once devoted an entire class to the composer's Mass in B Minor, he set out in middle age to learn to play the harpsichord. "Well, being Ed, the first thing he did was build a harpsichord from scratch," Bertrand chuckles.

Born in suburban Chicago in 1928 to a well-to-do family of clothing manufacturers, Kaufmann had little interest in business but showed an early predilection for the arts. Even as a schoolboy, he attended the symphony and opera. He studied at the University of Chicago, taking his Ph.D. under one of the great modern philosophers, Richard McKeon.

In 1958, Kaufmann joined the faculty at San Francisco State, where he taught until his retirement in 1988. Having inherited family money, Kaufmann lived the academic life by choice rather than necessity. He loved teaching and students flocked to his courses.

Long since retired, Kaufmann was looking forward to a trip to Rome when he succumbed to leukemia at age 73. His sizeable estate included a beautiful penthouse on Lombard Street and a small but impressive collection of modern art.

Kaufmann left his art to several museums. He had something entirely different in mind for the penthouse and its contents: putting its cash value to work in support of the College of Humanities. His hope was that students would be able to immerse themselves in their studies free of nagging financial worries, much the way he had decades earlier at the University of Chicago.

The terms of Kaufmann's living trust resulted in $1.4 million for the new Edward B. Kaufmann Endowment for the Humanities. Kaufmann stipulated that 60 percent of annual earnings go toward student scholarships. The remainder will support the Matthew Evans Resources Room, the Museum Studies Laboratory, and other activities of the College.

This fall, Aaron Groves, a graduate student majoring in English, and Christiane Brossi, an undergrad classics and comparative literature major, will be the first recipients of the Kaufmann Scholarships, which will provide each of them with $2,000 over the course of two semesters.

Groves would like to teach English at a community college. "I am grateful and honored," he says. "The generous financial award is certainly a help at a time when fees are rising."

Brossi, who also plans on pursuing a teaching position at the college level, is taking a full course load and working evenings as a restaurant server. Thanks to the scholarship, she's looking forward to cutting back her hours at work and devoting more time to her studies. "I'm so happy," she says. "This will help a lot."

For more information: If you are interested in making a gift to San Francisco State University, please contact the Office of University Development.
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