The American Academy of Arts and Sciences has received a $3.5 million gift from the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation. With this gift, conveyed by Morton L. Mandel, the Mandel family’s total giving to the Academy surpasses $11 million.
The American Academy – an independent, nonpartisan organization that honors the excellence and achievement of its members and engages them to develop new knowledge, uphold democratic ideals, and advance the common good – was founded in 1780 and moved into its current building in Cambridge in 1977. The Academy’s programmatic work spans the arts, democratic institutions, education, global affairs, and science.
The gift from the Mandel Foundation acknowledges the realities facing a 237-year old organization and a 40-year old building with support for both organizational and tangible infrastructure: it provides for a range of improvements from HVAC systems and technology to increased staffing that will increase the capacity of the Membership Engagement and Finance Departments.
The Mandel Foundation’s philanthropy is guided by a commitment to people with the values, ability, and passion to change the world. The Foundation recognizes its priorities in the American Academy’s exceptional membership and in the ambitious work to contribute knowledge and recommendations at the intersection of scholarship and public policy.
“We are gratified by, and grateful for, this vote of confidence in the Academy’s vision and values,” said Jonathan Fanton, the President of the American Academy. “Mort Mandel is an exemplary individual with regard to both philanthropy and business. We are honored by this investment in the work we do and the excellent people who come together across disciplines and divides to advance the common good.”
Morton Mandel is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Parkwood LLC, and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation, both headquartered in Cleveland. With his brothers Jack and Joseph, he founded the Premier Industrial Corporation, where he served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer until 2006. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2011.
“Working with the Academy on its growth and expansion has been a source of great satisfaction for the Foundation and for me,” said Mort Mandel. “Our ongoing support for the Academy has enabled a range of investments, which reflects our belief that supporting an organization ranges from addressing essential needs to expanding its reach.”
This $3.5 million gift, when added to prior gifts, establishes the Mandel Foundation as the most generous donors since the Academy was founded. Prior gifts have made a range of new initiatives possible, including public lectures with broad audiences, program committees across the nation, and a focus on the lasting impact of the Academy’s projects and publications.
The American Academy’s membership spans three centuries and includes Benjamin Franklin (elected 1781) and Alexander Hamilton (1791) in the eighteenth century; Ralph Waldo Emerson (1864), Maria Mitchell (1848), and Charles Darwin (1874) in the nineteenth; and Albert Einstein (1924), Robert Frost (1931), Margaret Mead (1948), Milton Friedman (1959), and Martin Luther King, Jr. (1966) in the twentieth.
In the 21st century, the American Academy is embracing new ideas and technologies while remaining true to its original mission – set forth by founders including John Adams, John Hancock, and James Bowdoin – “to cultivate every art and science which may tend to advance the interest, honor, dignity, and happiness of a free, independent, and virtuous people.”