Holocaust studies at the University of Florida gets funding to recruit top scholar

Published: May 8 2008

Category:Religion, Research

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Florida is seeking to elevate the prominence of its Holocaust research program, and a couple from south Florida feel that attracting a national authority on the subject is one way to do that.

It was announced today that Irma and Norman Braman, of Miami, Fla., have given $1 million toward establishing an endowed chair at the center. The gift, along with funds raised from other interested donors, will allow UF to hire a distinguished senior professor of Holocaust studies.

“This significant show of private support for a faculty position is exactly what the university needs to continue to excel, particularly in these times of state budget cuts,” said UF President Bernie Machen. “We are grateful to the Bramans for their generosity and foresight.”

“The senior-level position will galvanize our curriculum,” said Jack Kugelmass, Sam Melton Professor and director of the Center for Jewish Studies at UF.

“Recruiting a distinguished scholar in this field of study will amplify the quality of our course offerings in general and will encourage more graduate students to pursue masters and doctoral research in this particular area,” according to Kugelmass.

Today the field has become a core area of Jewish studies and helps to link Jewish studies with various European area studies programs, as well as to departments of comparative literature, film and philosophy. Indeed, the Holocaust as a subject of study has become integral to much of the humanities.

The Center for Jewish Studies at UF was established in 1973 by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. It offers both a major and minor, as well as study abroad programs. Overall, UF has at least five faculty members in different disciplines teaching in the area of Holocaust studies.

“We feel a very strong commitment to supporting Holocaust studies on the university level,” said Norman Braman. “The murder of 6,000,000 Jews for no crime other than being Jewish must be studied so that the world will never have to endure such inhumanity again. Our high opinion of the Center for Jewish Studies led us to direct our resources to UF.”

“We are also appreciative of the level of education our grandson (Alex Shack) received at UF,” continued Braman. “He came to UF four years ago as a boy and is graduating as a man.”

In recognition of their gift the faculty position will be named the Norman and Irma Braman Chair in Holocaust Studies.

Funds received for the endowed position are eligible for matching funds from the state of Florida Trust Fund for Major Gifts, which would increase the value of the endowment for the chair significantly.

A national search for the position is expected to begin next fall.

The University of Florida is currently in a seven-year capital campaign themed Florida Tomorrow. As of March 31st, $646 million had been raised toward a goal of $1.5 billion. More information can be found at www.floridatomorrow.ufl.edu.


Chris Brazda, 352-392-1633
Jack Kugelmass, 352-392-9247

Category:Religion, Research