UCLA's International Institutehas received a pledge of $1 million from the Rosalinde and Arthur GilbertFoundation to endow a permanent chair in Israelstudies, which will enhance the institute's role as a leading center forresearch and education on Israel.
The Gilbert Foundation fundsprograms in the United Statesand Israelthat promote tolerance, education, health care and the arts.
"All of us in internationalstudies at UCLA are excited and grateful that the Gilbert Foundation has madepossible this major advance in our program in Israel studies," said RonaldRogowski, interim vice-provost for international studies and dean of theInternational Institute. "The foundation's generosity significantly sustainsour concerted effort to create the highest quality scholarly program in Israel studies in North America."
Upon approval of the GilbertFoundation Chair by the president of the Universityof California, an international searchwill formally begin for an eminent senior scholar whose research addresses keyissues of contemporary Israel.An informal working group already has begun to explore the pool of potentialcandidates.
Israel has been a subject of studyat UCLA since the mid-1950s and has matured as a distinct field in academia. In2003–04, UCLA's International Institute formally created the Israel StudiesProgram to pursue research, teaching and public discourse on Israel from an interdisciplinary perspective spanning anthropology,economics, geography, history, literary and cultural studies, politicalscience, and sociology.
The Israel Studies Program isgoverned by a faculty advisory committee of eminent UCLA scholars, chaired byprofessor Saul Friedlander. Friedlander holds UCLA's 1939 Club Chair inHolocaust Studies and was the recipient of a 1999 MacArthur Foundation Award,one of the nation's most prestigious creative and intellectual awards. He isthe author of "Memory, History and the Extermination of the Jews of Europe,""Reflections of Nazism" and the acclaimed personal memoir, "When Memory Comes."He is the founder of the influential scholarly journal History and Memory.
Arnold Band, professor ofHebrew and comparative literature and a member of the faculty advisorycommittee, said that the ideal scholar to fill the chair will have "a wideknowledge of Israeli culture spanning several disciplines while specializing inat least one discipline in which he has achieved scholarly preeminence."
He added that this scholarshould "possess an impressive knowledge of both Jewish studies and Middle East studies, be sincerely interested in bothcreative scholarship and inspired teaching, and exhibit the qualities ofleadership necessary to build a dynamic program."
Band is the author of "Nostalgia and Nightmare: A Study ofFiction of S.Y. Agnon," "The Tales of Nahman of Bratslav" and "Studies inModern Jewish Literature," a selection of his articles published by the JewishPublication Society in their Scholars of Distinction series. He currently ispreparing a volume of his Hebrew essays, which will appear in Israel.
Also serving as facultyadvisers to the Israel Studies Program are:
Carol Bakhos, assistant professor of lateantique Judaism and Jewish Studies. A faculty member of the UCLA Department ofNear Eastern Languages and Cultures and the undergraduate adviser of Jewishstudies, Bakhos wrote "Ishmael on the Border: Rabbinic Portrayals of the FirstArab" and has edited two volumes of essays: "Judaism in its HellenisticContext" and "Current Trends in the Study of Midrash."
Leonard Binder, distinguished professor ofpolitical science and director of the Center for Near Eastern Studies.Binder is an internationally known specialist on Middle East politics and Islamic political thought. He is a foundingmember and has served as president of the Middle East Studies Association ofNorth America, and has been elected as a fellow of the American Academyof Arts and Sciences. He has been a fellow of the Center for Advanced Study inthe Behavioral Sciences and a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study at the Hebrew Universityin Jerusalem.Binder served as Albert Einstein Visiting Professor at HaifaUniversity in 1980 and is the authoror editor of books on Pakistan,Iran, Egypt, Lebanon,Arab nationalism, Islamic liberalism, Middle East studies, politicaldevelopment, and international politics in the Middle East.
William Schniedewind, chair of UCLA's Departmentof Near Eastern Languages and Cultures and professor of Biblical studies andNorthwest Semitics. Schniedewind is the author of "How the Bible Became a Book:The Textualization of Ancient Israel," as well as "A Primer for Ugarit: Language, Cultureand Literature," "Society and the Promise to David: A Reception History of 2Samuel 7:1–17" and "The Word of God in Transition: From Prophet to Exegete inthe Second Temple Period."
UCLA's Israel Studies Program is one of 16 centers andprograms in UCLA's International Institute. The institute's Ronald W. Burkle Centerfor International Relations fosters research, teaching, funding, publicoutreach and service on the contemporary world and the role of the United Statesin global security, military, political, social and economic affairs. Otherinstitute centers and programs include the AfricanStudies Center,the Asia Institute, the Center for European and Eurasian Studies, the Latin AmericanCenter, the Center for ChineseStudies, the South Asia Center,the Center for Japanese Studies, the Center for Korean Studies, the EducationAbroad Program and programs on Argentina,Brazil and Mexico.
UCLA's International Instituteis committed to the education of global citizens through its degree programs;through the people-to-people linkages it fosters among students, scholars andcitizens around the globe; and through its commitment to helping peopleeverywhere become lifelong learners about their world. For more information,visit http://www.international.ucla.edu/.
The Israel studies endowed chair ispart of UCLA's Ensuring Academic Excellence initiative, a five-year effortaimed at generating $250 million in private commitments specifically for therecruitment and retention of the very best faculty and graduate students. Theinitiative was launched in June 2004 and its goals include $100 million to fund100 new endowed chairs for faculty across campus, $100 million for fellowshipsand scholarships in the College of Letters and Science,and $50 million for fellowships and scholarships in UCLA's professionalschools.