By Tracy Galway
Ohio University’s Department of History has received a $50,000 gift from Andrew Berlin of Chicago to support the university’s Jewish Studies certificate program, which officially began in the 2007-08 academic year.
Berlin is chairman and chief executive officer of Chicago-based Berlin Packaging, LLC, which supplies plastic, glass and metal containers and closures. The company, which has plants nationwide, serves a variety of consumer goods industries. Berlin's daughter is an Ohio University student.
“Each year, about 2,000 Ohio University parents support the university with private gifts,” said Howard R. Lipman, vice president for university advancement and president and CEO of The Ohio University Foundation. “With state resources probably dwindling, philanthropic revenue is becoming more important than ever.”
Berlin’s gift will help the university match a recent challenge grant from the National Foundation for Jewish Culture/Schusterman Foundation for Ohio University’s Schusterman Teaching Fellow in Jewish Studies. The Schusterman award of $74,000 requires an equal match from other sources. With Berlin’s recent gift and a $20,000 grant from the Dorothy Fenburr and Margaret Davenport Foundation, the Jewish Studies program needs just $4,000 to meet its goal.
Ohio University was one of just six institutions selected for the Schusterman award from more than 40 contenders. US News & World Report ranks the university’s Department of History among the top 20 state university programs. The other Schusterman award recipients were American University, Northeastern University, Towson University, Tulane University and the University of Delaware.
The university’s Jewish Studies certificate program will provide undergraduate students from all majors with an opportunity to deepen their knowledge about and participation in Jewish arts, culture and history. It will encourage faculty scholarship in Jewish fields and enhance the recruitment of prospective students, faculty and staff.
“A group of faculty and staff recently developed the Jewish Studies certificate program (and) were fortunate to obtain a portion of the funding from the Schusterman Foundation to help get the program off to an excellent start. With the generosity of our alumni, and especially this gift from Mr. Berlin, we can now fund the postdoctoral position in Jewish history for two years,” said College of Arts and Sciences Dean Ben Ogles. “This key position will help us provide the essential courses and advising necessary for the certificate program to function.”
Jewish life has had a presence at Ohio University for decades. The campus Hillel was established in 1940 and continues to thrive. The university has a Jewish student choir, a Jewish fraternity, the Jewish Women of Ohio student organization and a Jewish Housing Cooperative. Today, there are about 800 Jewish students on campus.
“In recent years, Jewish Studies is growing in popularity around the country among Jewish and non-Jewish students,” said Professor of History Norman J.W. Goda, chair of the Department of History. “Developing a thriving Jewish Studies program is a key element to increasing religious and cultural diversity at Ohio University and meeting the intellectual needs of a dynamic student body.”
Those interested in making a gift to support Jewish Studies may contact Ellen Fultz, executive director of development at Ohio University, at 1-800-592-FUND (3863) or firstname.lastname@example.org. Secure online giving is available at www.ohio.edu/give.