The Mandel Center for the Humanities, made possible by a $22.5 million gift from the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation, will be dedicated at Brandeis University on October 26.
The donation and the striking building atop the Brandeis campus in Waltham reflect the Mandel family’s commitment to a liberal arts education grounded in literature, language and philosophy.
“I care about people being exposed to and learning about great ideas,” said Morton L. Mandel, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation. “We felt that an investment in the humanities and liberal arts would enhance the likelihood that people going through Brandeis would understand what the word ‘humanity’ means.”
Brandeis President Jehuda Reinharz said the new Mandel Center for the Humanities will stress an interdisciplinary approach to ensure that the study of humanities is an integral part of a Brandeis education regardless of a student’s major.
“The humanities are the essence of human civilization. Without them, we become excellent technicians in tiny fields. This generous gift is transformative and it comes at a crucial time,” he added. “Thanks to Jack, Joseph, Morton and Barbara Mandel, Brandeis has a truly visionary place to restore prestige to the humanities and provide a model for other colleges and universities.”
The Mandel Foundation gift is perhaps the largest ever made to an American university for the express purpose of transforming the study and understanding of the role the humanities plays in our lives today, said Reinharz.
The Mandel family has generously supported Brandeis through the establishment of the Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education, the Mandel Chair in Jewish Education, and the Barbara and Morton Mandel Endowed Graduate Fellowship in English and American Literature. Barbara Mandel serves on the Board of Trustees.
The new Mandel Center features a 90-seat theater and lecture hall; a 48-seat, tiered classroom; two 24-seat seminar rooms; a reading room; and a large, multi-purpose space and a roof garden. It also includes faculty offices and open-space workstations. Center Director Ramie Targoff said the new building provides the campus with a beautiful home for interdisciplinary events – classes, lectures, conferences and films, as well as ordinary conversations – among faculty, graduate students and undergraduates.
The dedication will feature keynote remarks by Princeton history professor Anthony Grafton.