Photo courtesy of The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation.

UCLA's International Institute Receives $1 Million for Israel Studies Endowed Chair From The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation

The Gilbert Foundation funds programs in the United States and Israel that promote tolerance, education, health care and the arts.

UCLA's International Institute has received a pledge of $1 million from The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation to endow a permanent chair in Israel studies, which will enhance the institute's role as a leading center for research and education on Israel.

The Gilbert Foundation funds programs in the United States and Israel that promote tolerance, education, health care and the arts.

"All of us in international studies at UCLA are excited and grateful that the Gilbert Foundation has made possible this major advance in our program in Israel studies," said Ronald Rogowski, interim vice-provost for international studies and dean of the International Institute. "The foundation's generosity significantly sustains our concerted effort to create the highest quality scholarly program in Israel studies in North America."

Upon approval of the Gilbert Foundation Chair by the president of the University of California, an international search will formally begin for an eminent senior scholar whose research addresses key issues of contemporary Israel. An informal working group already has begun to explore the pool of potential candidates.

Israel has been a subject of study at UCLA since the mid-1950s and has matured as a distinct field in academia. In 2003–04, UCLA's International Institute formally created the Israel Studies Program to pursue research, teaching and public discourse on Israel from an interdisciplinary perspective spanning anthropology, economics, geography, history, literary and cultural studies, political science, and sociology.

The Israel Studies Program is governed by a faculty advisory committee of eminent UCLA scholars, chaired by professor Saul Friedlander. Friedlander holds UCLA's 1939 Club Chair in Holocaust Studies and was the recipient of a 1999 MacArthur Foundation Award, one of the nation's most prestigious creative and intellectual awards. He is the author of "Memory, History and the Extermination of the Jews of Europe," "Reflections of Nazism" and the acclaimed personal memoir, "When Memory Comes." He is the founder of the influential scholarly journal History and Memory.

Arnold Band, professor of Hebrew and comparative literature and a member of the faculty advisory committee, said that the ideal scholar to fill the chair will have "a wide knowledge of Israeli culture spanning several disciplines while specializing in at least one discipline in which he has achieved scholarly preeminence."

He added that this scholar should "possess an impressive knowledge of both Jewish studies and Middle East studies, be sincerely interested in both creative scholarship and inspired teaching, and exhibit the qualities of leadership necessary to build a dynamic program."

Band is the author of "Nostalgia and Nightmare: A Study of Fiction of S.Y. Agnon," "The Tales of Nahman of Bratslav" and "Studies in Modern Jewish Literature," a selection of his articles published by the Jewish Publication Society in their Scholars of Distinction series. He currently is preparing a volume of his Hebrew essays, which will appear in Israel.

Also serving as faculty advisers to the Israel Studies Program are:

· Carol Bakhos, assistant professor of late antique Judaism and Jewish Studies. A faculty member of the UCLA Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures and the undergraduate adviser of Jewish studies, Bakhos wrote "Ishmael on the Border: Rabbinic Portrayals of the First Arab" and has edited two volumes of essays: "Judaism in its Hellenistic Context" and "Current Trends in the Study of Midrash."

· Leonard Binder, distinguished professor of political science and director of the Center for Near Eastern Studies. Binder is an internationally known specialist on Middle East politics and Islamic political thought. He is a founding member and has served as president of the Middle East Studies Association of North America, and has been elected as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has been a fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences and a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Binder served as Albert Einstein Visiting Professor at Haifa University in 1980 and is the author or editor of books on Pakistan, Iran, Egypt, Lebanon, Arab nationalism, Islamic liberalism, Middle East studies, political development, and international politics in the Middle East.

· William Schniedewind, chair of UCLA's Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures and professor of Biblical studies and Northwest Semitics. Schniedewind is the author of "How the Bible Became a Book: The Textualization of Ancient Israel," as well as "A Primer for Ugarit: Language, Culture and Literature," "Society and the Promise to David: A Reception History of 2 Samuel 7:1–17" and "The Word of God in Transition: From Prophet to Exegete in the Second Temple Period."

UCLA's Israel Studies Program is one of 16 centers and programs in UCLA's International Institute. The institute's Ronald W. Burkle Center for International Relations fosters research, teaching, funding, public outreach and service on the contemporary world and the role of the United States in global security, military, political, social and economic affairs. Other institute centers and programs include the African Studies Center, the Asia Institute, the Center for European and Eurasian Studies, the Latin American Center, the Center for Chinese Studies, the South Asia Center, the Center for Japanese Studies, the Center for Korean Studies, the Education Abroad Program and programs on Argentina, Brazil and Mexico.

UCLA's International Institute is committed to the education of global citizens through its degree programs; through the people-to-people linkages it fosters among students, scholars and citizens around the globe; and through its commitment to helping people everywhere become lifelong learners about their world. For more information, visit www.international.ucla.edu.

The Israel studies endowed chair is part of UCLA's Ensuring Academic Excellence initiative, a five-year effort aimed at generating $250 million in private commitments specifically for the recruitment and retention of the very best faculty and graduate students. The initiative was launched in June 2004 and its goals include $100 million to fund 100 new endowed chairs for faculty across campus, $100 million for fellowships and scholarships in the College of Letters and Science, and $50 million for fellowships and scholarships in UCLA's professional schools.

Date: January 12, 2006
Contact: Judy Lin ( jlin@support.ucla.edu )
Phone: 310-825-8523