Marta Kauffman ’78, H’20, Endows AAAS Professorship

In June, Marta Kauffman ’78, H’20, co-creator of the hit TV shows “Friends” and “Grace and Frankie,” pledged
$4 million to establish an endowed professorship in the Department of African and African American Studies.

The Marta F. Kauffman ’78 Professorship in African and African American Studies will support a distinguished scholar with a concentration in the study of the peoples and cultures of Africa and the African diaspora.

The gift will also help the department recruit more expert scholars and teachers, map long-term academic and research priorities, and provide new opportunities for students to engage in interdisciplinary scholarship.

Kauffman says the gift stems from the fact that she became a Brandeis student because she was in search of “liberation” from the antisemitism she experienced during childhood and the university was where she began to think more intentionally about other “people who aren’t liberated.”

“Brandeis is where I learned to be a human being,” Kauffman says. “This is where my eyes were opened, at least the beginning of that. They weren’t completely open — I had a lot to learn — but it was [...] the beginning of caring about things beyond my sphere, and I credit Brandeis for that.”