University News

Alumnus donates $900,000 to UCLA’s Nazarian Center for Israel Studies

Harry C. Sigman
Courtesy of Harry C. Stigman

Harry C. Sigman

Harry C. Sigman, a Los Angeles attorney specializing in U.S. and international commercial law, has made a gift of $900,000 to UCLA’s Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for Israel Studies.

Sigman earned his undergraduate degree from UCLA in 1960, completed his law degree at Harvard University and has been a member of the State Bar of California for more than 50 years. He has taught law at the University of Southern California, UCLA and universities around the world, including in Israel. Most of Sigman’s extended family lives in Israel, where he has traveled regularly since 1960.

He came to know the Nazarian Center as a regular attendee of its free public lectures on contemporary Israel by distinguished Israelis and Israel experts. Well-known speakers from Israel have included journalist and author Ari Shavit (2014), short story writer and filmmaker Etgar Keret (2013), and scholar and diplomat Shlomo Ben Ami (2013).

Sigman’s gift will be invested in three endowment funds in his name: a scholarship fund for undergraduates to study in Israel, a graduate fellowship fund to support doctoral studies focused on Israel Studies and a distinguished lecture fund. His gift thus represents an investment in the future of the Nazarian Center and its continued abilities to support education and research on Israel at UCLA and to advance the burgeoning field of Israel studies.

“I am pleased that I was able to tailor these gifts to provide benefits both for the present and the long-term future, and for both academia and the Los Angeles community, furthering the work of the Y and S Nazarian Center,” Sigman said. “I hope that by my establishing these three endowment funds, others who consider any of these specific purposes important will be encouraged to make their own gifts to these funds, thereby hastening and enhancing their effectiveness.”

Sigman’s gift will be made over time, with final payments made by his estate. He also paid all additional administrative fees, thereby ensuring that the entire gift will be invested in the three endowments.  

His initial contribution was made at an intimate ceremony hosted by the Nazarian Center on Sept. 9.   

“Mr. Sigman’s visionary gift recognizes the importance of scholarly, interdisciplinary study of Israel,” said Sharon Nazarian, chair of the Nazarian Center advisory board, president of the Y and S Nazarian Family Foundation and visiting professor at UCLA. “We are so grateful for his generosity, which will allow the Nazarian Center to foster greater understanding of Israeli history, society and culture in all its complexity. Many generations of students, researchers and the public will benefit as a result.”

The Harry C. Sigman Scholarship for Study in Israel Endowment Fund will provide scholarships to help full-time UCLA undergraduate or law students of any religion or nationality study full time for a semester or academic year at an institution of higher education in Israel.

The Harry C. Sigman Graduate Fellowship in Israel Studies Endowment Fund will be used to attract outstanding graduate students of any religion or nationality to pursue doctoral studies at UCLA with a focus on Israel. Multi- and single-year fellowships will be made available on a competitive basis to doctoral candidates in varied disciplines, with some grants available for archival or other research in Israel.

The Harry C. Sigman Distinguished Lecture in Israel Studies Endowment Fund will support public lectures by leading experts on a range of Israel-related topics as part of the program of the Nazarian Center.  

Sigman has capabilities in several languages (German, Spanish, Hebrew, Yiddish and French) and consults worldwide on commercial law. He clerked for Justice Raymond Peters of the California Supreme Court, and he has lectured and given seminars to law faculties all over the world, including those of Hebrew University and Bar Ilan.

He has worked as a consultant to governments and NGOs all over the world and has represented the United States at the United Nations, The Hague and Unidroit (the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law) in multilateral commercial law treaty negotiations. He is past chair and a perpetual member of the Uniform Commercial Code Committee of the California State Bar and a recipient of its Business Law Section’s lifetime achievement award.

Among Sigman’s many publications are “Cross-Border Security over Receivables” (2007) and “Cross-Border Security over Tangibles” (2009), both co-authored with Eva-Maria Kieninger; and numerous articles for legal journals in the U.S., Germany, France, the U.K. and Belgium. 

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