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Release date: 11-27-01
Contact: Nancy Seideman, Director, 404-727-0640, or


Arthur Blank Grants $5 Million to Emory's Jewish Studies Institute


Emory University’s Institute for Jewish Studies has received a five-year, $5 million "challenge" grant from the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, giving the fast-growing center the springboard it needs to leap to the forefront of Jewish scholarship in the United States.

The institute hopes to establish a $10 million endowment, and the Blank gift was made with the understanding that Emory would raise the additional $5 million. The gift also gives naming rights for the institute to Arthur Blank, co-founder and retired co-chairman of The Home Depot. Blank is an Emory trustee and distinguished executive in residence at Goizueta Business School.

Commenting on the grant, Blank said, "Our family foundation is pleased to be able to support Emory University and the Institute for Jewish Studies. The endowment we are helping to establish will allow this outstanding institute to further enhance staff and study programs to the benefit of all its students."

"We are absolutely thrilled," says Deborah Lipstadt, institute director and Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies. "It’s a tremendous vote of confidence in our program for Arthur Blank to make such a generous contribution to the institute and the university."

"Arthur Blank’s generous and thoughtful contribution," says Emory President Bill Chace, "will give great impetus and encouragement to the university’s plans for Jewish studies and will place Emory directly in the center of one of the most important intellectual and cultural areas in academic and public life."

"I am delighted that this wonderful and outstanding man has supported Emory again and in such a meaningful way," says Bill Fox, Emory’s senior vice president for institutional advancement. "Jewish studies has made a significant contribution to scholarship and the enrichment of community life, and Arthur believes in and supports both in his generosity and in his personal life. He is a superb human being."

Lipstadt said the institute’s goals for the endowment are "multifaceted" and address everything from faculty recruitment and program space to scholarship and curriculum expansion. In a written summary identifying key needs for the program, Lipstadt also mentioned the need to hire a full-time, professional executive director.

David Blumenthal, Cohen Professor of Judaic Studies, said he believes Blank saw an opportunity to take a program that was already very good and turn it into something excellent. "This gift will allow us to create an island of excellence, certainly in the Southeastern United States and probably at a national level."

Founded in 1995, the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation is committed to supporting programs and organizations that create opportunity, enhance self-esteem and increase awareness about cultural and community issues among young men and women. Grants to date total more than $40 million.

Emory established the Institute for Jewish Studies in February 1999 to pull together its existing graduate program in the field and create an undergraduate component. The institute has a core of 13 faculty, three of whom hold chaired professorships, with another 13 professors serving as associate faculty.

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