Jewish history program bolstered by $2 million endowed chair

By Staff
Photo: Courtesy of the Singer family Louis P. Singer
Photo: Courtesy of the Singer family
Louis P. Singer

Photo: Courtesy of the Singer familyLouis P. Singer

To honor a father who stoked their love of history and respect for civil rights, Boulder sisters and University of Colorado Boulder alumnae Midge Korczak and Leslie Singer Lomas have donated $2 million to endow the Louis P. Singer Endowed Chair in Jewish History at CU-Boulder.

The chair supports a distinguished senior faculty position in perpetuity, and adds substantially to the momentum and presence of the Jewish Studies Program.

"At a time when globalization has become a buzzword for making our university international, the Singer Chair in Jewish History ensures that CU students will be able to study the history of the world's oldest global people long into the future," said David Shneer, program director and associate professor of history. Shneer will be the inaugural Singer chairholder.

Though the Jewish Studies Program was launched at CU-Boulder just four years ago, course offerings already have more than tripled and enrollment exceeds 700 students each semester. Subtopics range from Jews Under Islam to Women and Jewish Law, to five courses in Modern Hebrew. Outreach events such as the Week of Jewish Culture annually bring renowned thinkers and culture-makers to Boulder.

With this gift, CU-Boulder becomes one of just six U.S. public universities (17 in all) to have established a chair in Jewish history. By supporting a faculty position in perpetuity, endowed chairs can boost recruitment and signify stability for university programs.

"Jewish studies may be a hot topic this year or next year, but who knows down the road?" Korczak said. "We wanted to establish some permanence to the program, and endowing a chair helps to do this."

Photo: Glenn Asakawa/ University of Colorado David Shneer
Photo: Glenn Asakawa/
University of Colorado
David Shneer

Photo: Glenn Asakawa/University of ColoradoDavid Shneer

The sisters made the gift to honor their father, Louis P. Singer, who was a partner in the over-the-counter securities firm Troster-Singer and who had a keen personal interest in intellectual debate, philanthropy and civil rights. He cared deeply about education and early on recognized the importance of institutions fostering an understanding of diverse religions and cultures. The Singer Chair was created in his memory with the hope that its establishment will make it possible for students at the University of Colorado to better appreciate the history of the Jewish people.

"He was very modest and humble," Korczak said. "I can't think of another way to honor him that would make him happier than to make this gift."

This gift is among more than 200,000 received by the University of Colorado since the 2006 outset of "Creating Futures," an unprecedented $1.5 billion fundraising campaign to support teaching, research, outreach and health programs on CU's four campuses.