Carolina Center for Jewish Studies receives $1 million gift from Leonard and Tobee Kaplan to establish distinguished professorship
CHAPEL HILL -- Leonard J. and Tobee W. Kaplan of Greensboro have made a $1 million gift to the Carolina Center for Jewish Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to establish a new distinguished professorship.
Based in the College of Arts and Sciences, the Leonard and Tobee Kaplan Distinguished Professorship will allow the University to create an endowed chair to recruit a teacher and scholar in modern Jewish religious thought. The Kaplan professor will be housed in the religious studies department and chosen through a competitive search process which will begin in fall 2005. Additional funding from the North Carolina Distinguished Professors Endowment Trust Fund brings the Kaplan endowment to $1,334,000.
Leonard Kaplan, a 1949 Carolina alumnus, and his wife, Tobee, head the Toleo Foundation, a family effort devoted to a variety of philanthropic causes. They were the leaders in helping to build a new building for the North Carolina Hillel chapter at Chapel Hill, and they have since worked with NC Hillel to support the hungry and the homeless in Carrboro and Chapel Hill. They also are deeply committed to the Women's Resource Center of Greensboro (a program that enables women to advance their career paths). In 2004, Leonard and Tobee initiated the Greenbrier Forum, a program to inspire greater generosity among philanthropists.
Leonard Kaplan explains that, "We have been contemplating for a couple of years where we could make the biggest impact with a contribution to UNC-Chapel Hill. We hope this new professorship will bring to the forefront the modern world of Jewish religious practices, culture and social issues that are significant to not only the Jewish world, but people of all faiths."
The Carolina Center for Jewish Studies, created in 2003, offers Jewish Studies courses through a variety of departments across campus. Close to 1,000 undergraduates enroll in these courses each year, studying topics from the Hebrew Bible and the history of the Holocaust to Jews in the South and religion in modern Israel. The Center also offers a number of public programs, including an annual lecture series.
"With a flourishing undergraduate minor and a growing program in Modern Hebrew, the Carolina Center for Jewish Studies is well on its way to becoming one of the leading Jewish Studies programs in the nation," said Jonathan Hess, director of the Carolina Center for Jewish Studies. "The Kaplan professorship represents a dramatic step forward for the Center. It will enable us to recruit one of the foremost scholars in Jewish thought to UNC, giving generations of Carolina students the possibility to study with a national leader in this field."
The Kaplan gift counts toward the university's Carolina First Campaign goal of $1.8 billion. Carolina First is a comprehensive, multi-year, private fund-raising campaign to support Carolina's vision of becoming the nation's leading public university.