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Multimillion-dollar gift creates Institute for Jewish Studies and Modern Israel

September 18, 2018
Beaumont Tower on July 30, 2018.
Beaumont Tower on July 30, 2018. —
Photo by Annie Barker | The State News

The Jewish Studies Program at MSU will be changing its name thanks to a multimillion-dollar gift from Michael and Elaine Serling, which includes "a mix of cash and estate giving," according to a university press release.

The program will now be called the “Michael and Elaine Serling Institute for Jewish Studies and Modern Israel," the release said.

The Serlings are not new donors to this program at MSU. In 2005, they helped establish a Michael and Elaine Serling and Friends Chair in Israel Studies. This made MSU the sixth university in the U.S. to have an endowed chair in that specific field of study.

This program is interdisciplinary, according to the press release, and the students involved do not have to have a Jewish background. There around 650 students taking 25-30 offered courses each year. 

There is also a minor program, which has about 48 students.

Michael Serling is an MSU alumnus with a bachelor’s degree in history and teaching certification in 1966. Later on, he was awarded the MSU Distinguished Alumni Award in 2004.

He also obtained a law degree from the MSU College of Law, which at the time was called the Detroit College of Law.

The Serlings will be honored at the 34th Holocaust Memorial Center Zekelman Family Campus Anniversary Dinner in November for their "dedication and commitment to the center’s mission, and for their contributions to the growth of Jewish Studies at MSU, including their contribution of $500,000 to the William and Audrey Farber Family Chair in Holocaust Studies and European Jewish History," the press release said. 

“When I found out there was a Jewish Studies Program underway at MSU back in the ’90s, I was thrilled and wanted to help make it happen,” Michael Serling said in the press release. “To see my alma mater taking the lead in the intellectual advancement of Jewish studies and connectivity with Israel has been very rewarding and it is a great joy to be able to support the bright future of this program.”

This contribution will help form activities that join MSU faculty and Israeli colleagues in various fields and will contribute to research, study abroad and internship opportunities, the press release said. 

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