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Feb. 23, 2005


Frankel family gives $20 million to Judaic Studies at U-M

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—The Samuel and Jean Frankel Jewish Heritage Foundation has provided a gift of $20 million to establish the Frankel Institute for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan.

The gift is the largest dedicated to Judaic studies at any university, and the largest ever to U-M's College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA). The Institute will reside within U-M's existing Frankel Center for Judaic Studies.

The new Institute will annually bring 14 of the world's leading scholars from a variety of disciplines to Ann Arbor for an academic year to collaborate in advancing scholarly research on the history, culture, literature, and religion of the Jews from antiquity to the present. It will be one of only a handful of such institutes in the world. The gift is expected to establish the Institute as the largest of its kind and enable it to develop into one of the most prestigious.

The gift from Samuel and Jean Frankel, both U-M alums, represents the latest chapter in the family's long history of involvement with Judaic studies at U-M. Noting their 1988 collaboration with the Detroit Jewish Welfare Federation that provided a $2 million gift to establish the Frankel Center for Judaic Studies, Frankel says that today's gift continues this tradition of support.

"We have worked in close partnership with the University of Michigan to build an outstanding Center for Judaic Studies," said Samuel Frankel. "Our partnership created the vision for the Institute, which will take the existing Center and the field of study to a new level. We are tremendously fortunate to have the means to make it a reality."

U-M President Mary Sue Coleman says she is grateful not only for the Frankel family's generosity in supporting numerous programs throughout the University over many years, but also for the transformative role they are playing in U-M's current fundraising campaign, The Michigan Difference. In addition to providing their own gifts, Sam and Jean's son Stanley is a vice chair, and their daughter-in-law Maxine is a co-chair of the University's $2.5 billion fundraising effort.

"The University of Michigan is delighted and grateful for the latest wonderful gift from this quietly generous couple, Jean and Sam Frankel," Coleman said. "While they have been longtime supporters of the University in a wide variety of areas, this gift is particularly fitting because it will enhance the study of Jewish culture and civilization, a lifetime commitment of this outstanding philanthropic family."

LSA Dean Terrence J. McDonald said he is pleased that the Frankels are continuing to build upon their pioneering efforts in the College, begun more than a decade ago with the establishment of the Frankel Center for Judaic Studies.

"We are extremely grateful for the Frankels' vision and generosity," McDonald said. "This new, extraordinary gift will firmly establish U-M as the nation's preeminent center for scholarly research in Jewish studies. In so doing, it will add greatly to LSA's already strong reputation among America's elite liberal arts colleges as a leader in innovative, interdisciplinary teaching and research."

Todd Endelman, professor of history and director of the Frankel Center for Judaic Studies, sees the gift as a unique opportunity.

"While almost every other program in the country has the resources to bring one or possibly two visiting Jewish studies professors to campus for a semester or even a year, we will soon have the ability to host 14 scholars for an entire academic year—every year—to share, debate and test ideas in ways that will advance knowledge in the many fields making up Jewish studies," Endelman said. "The energy and excitement that we expect will be kindled will be felt far beyond the University of Michigan."

About the Jean and Samuel Frankel Center for Judaic Studies:

Established through a joint gift between Jean and Samuel Frankel and the Detroit Jewish Welfare Federation, the Jean and Samuel Frankel Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan is today a nationally prominent program offering richly diverse interdisciplinary scholarship that explores all aspects of the culture, history, tradition, and relevance of the Jewish people, and of their impact on other cultures and world civilization. For more information, visit:

About the College of LSA:

The University of Michigan's College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA) is an extraordinary center of creativity, inquiry, and discovery. LSA offers more than 3,500 courses. Over 1,000 faculty—experts in anthropology through zoology—teach courses that explore the world's cultural, social, and scientific big questions. LSA's top research laboratories put faculty and students at the forefront of discoveries in life sciences, physics, and astronomy. Meanwhile, a vibrant literary and performing arts tradition in the College enriches the minds and hearts of the campus community. For more information, visit:

About the University of Michigan:

The University of Michigan, with its size, complexity, and academic strength, the breadth of its scholarly resources, and the quality of its faculty and students, is one of America's great public universities and one of the world's premier research institutions. The University is a community of outstanding faculty, talented students, and committed staff who learn and work in a stimulating intellectual environment enriched by diverse cultural and social opportunities. For more information, visit:

About the Frankel family:

LSA alumnus and longtime Detroit-area real estate developer Samuel Frankel, his wife Jean (BA '36), and their family have a long and distinguished history of involvement with, and giving to U-M. Beyond their generous support for Judaic Studies, the greater Frankel family, including sons Stanley (BA '63, MBA '64), Bruce (BBA '67), and Stuart (BBA '61) and their spouses Judy, who attended U-M from 1962-1964, Dale (BA '68, MA '69) and Maxine (BA Dearborn '66), as well as their daughter Jo Elyn and her husband George Nyman—has supported numerous other U-M fundraising priorities.

Among projects they have supported are the Drachler program in the School of Social Work, the Cardiology Department in the School of Medicine, and the Ross School of Business. Recently, the University also received a $10 Million gift from the Maxine and Stuart Frankel Foundation for Art, providing major support for a new addition to the University of Michigan Museum of Art.

In addition to their many gifts to U-M, the Frankels are also major supporters of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute, Jewish schools in metro Detroit, the Frankel School in Jerusalem, the Jewish Welfare Federation of Metro Detroit, and Children's Hospital of Detroit, among others.

Jean & Samuel Frankel Center for Judaic Studies

Contact: Glen Sard
Phone: (734) 998-7320