Menahem Pressler and Friends

A Concert to Celebrate the 40th Anniversary of The Robert A. and Sandra S. Borns Jewish Studies Program
Auer Hall
Simon Music Center
IU Bloomington
Bloomington, Indiana
April 21, 2013


Thank you very much, Dan, and congratulations to Lou and Sybil on receiving a much deserved honor. The leadership, counsel, and guidance that you and your fellow members of the Executive Committee and the Advisory Board provide to the Borns Jewish Studies Program are truly invaluable.  Thank you all for your great efforts and for your tireless support.

Laurie and I are delighted to be with you this afternoon to help celebrate an important milestone in the life of a program that is one of the jewels of Indiana University.

Celebrating The Borns Jewish Studies Program

The Borns Jewish Studies Program is, of course, one of the largest, one of the oldest, and one of the very finest programs of its kind in the country.

The program’s rigorous, multidisciplinary approach contributes enormously to Indiana University’s considerable reputation as a leader in professional area studies scholarship. Such scholarship enhances our knowledge of the histories, cultures, religions, politics, economies, institutions, art, and literature of countries and regions around the world, and thus allows us to better understand one another.

As you may know, the Borns Jewish Studies Program will be part of Indiana University’s new School of Global and International Studies, and will be housed in the magnificent new building for which we will break ground in just over a week. I am confident that the program will celebrate many future milestones and continue to enjoy great success in its new home.

Any program that thrives over the course of four decades, as the Borns Jewish Studies Program has done, relies on the contributions of many outstanding faculty, dedicated staff, the participation of talented students, and the support of accomplished alumni.

And, of course, the program has also benefited from the excellent leadership of its directors. Let me express my congratulations and gratitude to Alvin Rosenfeld, whose distinguished 30-year tenure as the program’s director helped make it the outstanding program it is today. This tradition of excellent leadership has continued under Professor Steve Weitzman, and more recently under Professor Jeffrey Veidlinger. Regrettably, Professor Veidlinger will soon be stepping down as the program’s director as he is taking a position at the University of Michigan. The program will continue to be in good hands, however. Just this week, Professor Mark Roseman, who holds the Pat M. Glazer Chair in the Jewish Studies Program, was appointed as its next director. Would you join me in expressing our gratitude to Professor Veidlinger for his exceptional service to the Borns Jewish Studies Program?

Generous Support for Study Abroad

In 2008, I was honored to be part of a delegation of American university leaders who visited Israel in order to explore closer academic and research ties between the two nations. We visited six major universities, including Hebrew University of Jerusalem, an institution with which IU has had a very strong and fruitful relationship for 40 years. The leaders of all six universities expressed their desire to encourage more American students to visit Israel. Indiana University shares that desire.

Study and service abroad are essential components of 21st century education meant to prepare students to live and work in a flat world, and increasing the number of IU students who study abroad has been one of my priorities as president. Students who engage in study or service overseas acquire global literacies, they learn the skills of, and gain confidence in, living, working, studying and travelling internationally, and they make contacts that often lead to lifelong friendships and productive international networks.

Of course, the Jewish Studies Program also recognizes the vital importance of study abroad, and it has become an integral part of the program’s curriculum. Jewish students who study in Israel not only gain the benefits I have mentioned, but, for many of them, time spent in Israel also has spiritual dimensions and can serve to strengthen their personal Jewish identity.

As many of you know, we are conducting a campaign to endow scholarships for overseas study. Gifts are being matched by the university, which will double the annual income produced from these endowments each year, in perpetuity.

Supporters of the Jewish Studies Program have responded generously, donating a total so far of $275,000 to endow scholarships for study abroad in Israel.

This represents one of the largest responses to this campaign by any unit on the Bloomington campus.

We are deeply grateful to Barbara and Joe Alpert; Bob and Sandra Borns; Frank, David M., Dan, and Mary Cook; Esther Fogle; Rosey Krakovitiz; Jane and Andy Mallor; Sybil and Lou Mervis; Jeff and Ilene New; and Lee and Dr. Reuben Shevitz for their enormous generosity, which will have a life-changing impact on so many students for many decades to come.

Some of them couldn’t be with us today, but many of them are here. Would you join me in expressing our gratitude for these generous gifts?

Introduction of Provost Lauren Robel

Now, it is my pleasure to introduce the provost of the Bloomington campus and executive vice president of Indiana University, Lauren Robel.

Would you join me in welcoming Provost Robel?