Professor Ramie Targoff to step down as Director of Brandeis’ Mandel Center for the Humanities

Ramie Targoff

Ramie Targoff

Ramie Targoff, professor of English, co-chair of Italian studies, and the inaugural Jehuda Reinharz Director of the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for the Humanities, will step down as director in June after leading the center since its inception 11 years ago.

“Having the opportunity to create strong connections across disciplines at Brandeis has been incredibly rewarding and enlightening,” Targoff said. “I am proud of the work we have done to create new ways for faculty and students to view their own and others’ intellectual pursuits through different lenses. These programs have enabled us to enliven the academic life of our university in a way that simply wasn’t available before the center opened.”

The Mandel Center’s striking modern building was funded by a $22.5 million gift from the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation. Its programming was launched by a challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and is sustained through an annual grant from the Mandel Foundation. Support for the humanities was generally waning in academia at the time the Mandels gave their gift. After the center was established, late Brandeis Trustee Barbara Mandel, P’73, H’19 and wife of Morton Mandel, continued to be engaged in its work.

“Our work would never have been possible without Jack, Joseph, Morton and Barbara Mandel’s vision to promote humanities education; the Foundation’s continued support has both inspired and challenged us to expand the reach of the humanities for the Brandeis community and beyond,” Targoff said.

The Mandel Center supports a variety of programs that draw connections across academic fields that may at first seem unrelated. The annual Mandel Lectures in the Humanities brings prominent scholars to campus to deliver a series of three lectures and conduct an informal seminar during their stay on campus; the lectures are later published. Each year, five faculty members are selected to receive $10,000 Mandel Faculty grants to support humanities research. The Center also hosts team-taught interdisciplinary classes for undergraduates and has supported faculty seminars that bring together humanities and science professors to discuss concepts and theories from humanistic and scientific perspectives through joint lectures.

“The Mandel Center for the Humanities in many ways lies at the core of the interdisciplinary scholarship and education that is an integral part of academic life at Brandeis,” said Dean of Arts and Sciences Dorothy Hodgson. “I am grateful to the Mandel Foundation for its support of the center and to Ramie for her amazing work in launching and sustaining it for the past 11 years.”

“Ramie has been an outstanding leader in carrying out the vision that the Mandels had for this center, when they first made their gift in 2007,” said Jehuda Reinharz, president emeritus of Brandeis and current president and chief executive officer of the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation. “I look forward to the Center’s next chapter which will continue to have Ramie lead the publication of the Mandel Lectures in the Humanities and launch a new series of Mandel Books in the Global Humanities.”

Hodgson will begin a search for Targoff’s successor with the plan of identifying a new director before the beginning of the 2021-2022 academic year.


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