Mandel Center for the Humanities groundbreaking
$22.5 million facility will preserve humanities in higher education
WALTHAM, Mass. — The university broke ground Sept. 23 on the Mandel Center for the Humanities and the Mandel Humanities Quadrangle — a facility aimed at protecting and preserving a critical niche in higher education in the United States.
Made possible by a $22.5 million gift from the Cleveland-based Mandel Foundation, the center will bolster Brandeis’ commitment to the humanities and social sciences, and underscores the cultural and intellectual importance of the liberal arts education and the fields of literature, language and philosophy.
“We care about people being familiar with the great ideas,” said Morton Mandel, chairman and CEO of the Mandel Foundation. He represented the foundation at the groundbreaking with Barbara Mandel, a member of the university’s board of trustees. Morton Mandel told the gathering of about 100 faculty, students and staff members that his family, which includes brothers Jack and Joe, chose Brandeis for the foundation’s gift because of the university’s “character, passion and soul.”
“Brandeis is a very special place in our view,” he said.
The Mandel family commitment to the new center is based on a belief that society must support the liberal arts tradition, and that for education to be truly complete, it must be broadly constructed on a solid humanities foundation.
“This gift is precedent-setting,” said Brandeis President Jehuda Reinharz. “Today we are imagining the future together.”
Leslie Berlowitz, chief executive of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, told the Boston Globe in an interview last winter that the Mandel gift is “extraordinary” and “very significant for higher education.”
The Mandel Center for the Humanities will encourage the free flow of students, faculty members, research and ideas in its mission and its architecture; the center will physically connect freestanding buildings in the humanities quadrangle. It will foster original, interdisciplinary undergraduate courses, and offer increased opportunities for students to participate in research that incorporates multifaceted subject matter.
The center will also organize special local, national and international conferences and events. Construction is due to begin in spring 2009.
The Mandel family has already established, at Brandeis, the Mandel Graduate Fellowship in English and American Literature; Mandel Graduate Fellowship in the Humanities; the Mandel Chair in Jewish Education; and the Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education.