Endowed Chair in Jewish Studies Established Through Major Gift
March 3, 2010
By Marilyn Smulders
A major donor has stepped forward to establish an endowed chair in Jewish studies at Dalhousie University.
Jim Spatz, the chair of Dalhousie’s Board of Governors, has made a $1-million donation in tribute to his parents, Simon and Riva Spatz. Holocaust survivors from Poland, they met and married after the Second World War and immigrated to Canada where they built a successful business in property management. The Simon and Riva Spatz Chair in Jewish Studies is named in their honor.
But before anyone can be hired for the position, more funds have to be collected. The endowed chair has a target of $3 million in order to produce $150,000 a year in funding for a salary and research support, says Chris Steeves, a development officer with the Office of the Vice-President, External.
“We have several other verbal commitments and a second gift of $100,000,” says Mr. Steeves. “We’re hopeful we’ll be able to fund the chair entirely through major gifts.”
The Simon and Riva Spatz Chair in Jewish Studies will reside in the Religious Studies Program within the Department of Classics and the Faculty of Arts and Social Scientists (FASS). The program draws on the expertise of professors throughout FASS, including classics, history and sociology and social anthropology.
The chair will have three areas of focus: teaching, research and outreach. The chair is envisioned to help students appreciate how centuries-old beliefs influence contemporary world events.
Shirley Tillotson, associate dean in FASS, is hopeful the endowed chair is just the first of several to represent major world religions.
“We strive to have a more interdisciplinary religious studies department,” says Dr. Tillotson. “Scholars in the social sciences and the humanities are thinking with new seriousness about the place of religion in the political world.”