A Legacy of Continuity and Transformation
A $5 million gift from the Jack Buncher Foundation and the Jack G. Buncher Charitable Fund for Carnegie Mellon establishes endowed professorship in Jewish studies and expands Jewish student life on CMU’s campus.
By Amanda S.F. HartleMedia Inquiries
A $5 million investment by the Jack Buncher Foundation and the Jack G. Buncher Charitable Fund for Carnegie Mellon will significantly expand CMU’s efforts to grow Jewish learning and student life on campus while also deepening ties between the university and a noted global organization.
The gift ensures Jewish student life at CMU flourishes in the future through an endowed directorship at CMU-Hillel and sustains new research, scholarship and connections with an endowed professorship at the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences.
“With this gift, Carnegie Mellon University can significantly advance scholarship related to Jewish history and culture, while also ensuring an enriching educational experience for all CMU students as they explore and expand their knowledge of the Jewish faith,” says CMU Provost and Chief Academic Officer James H. Garrett, Jr. (E 1982, 1983, 1986).
The gift was championed by Bernita Buncher, chair of the foundation that bears her late father’s name.
“I’m thrilled to continue our long-standing relationship with Carnegie Mellon in such an auspicious way as we work together to positively impact Jewish student life and learning for many years to come,” Miss Buncher says.
"This professorship allows the history department to create wonderful educational programs and stimulate new research on the study of Jewish life. We could not be more excited and more grateful."
Exploring a Rich History
The Jack Buncher Endowed Chair in Jewish Studies will provide CMU students and faculty with a path to deepen their understanding of Jewish history by catalyzing interdisciplinary collaborations that will transform how stories of European Jewish communities and their legacy are told around the world.
Michal Friedman, a visiting assistant professor of history at Dietrich College, will be the inaugural recipient. The new professorship is closely connected with Centropa, an archive of photos and oral histories that document Jewish life in Europe throughout the 20th century held by the Centropa Central Europe Center for Research and Documentation.
“The Jack Buncher Foundation has made it possible for Dietrich College to jump a level in what we can offer in Jewish studies and history,” says Bess Family Dean of Dietrich College Richard Scheines. “This professorship allows the history department to create wonderful educational programs and stimulate new research on the study of Jewish life. We could not be more excited and more grateful.”
Friedman will partner with Centropa, faculty and students at CMU and the University of Pittsburgh, as well as the wider Pittsburgh community, to craft innovative educational experiences and exhibitions as well as conferences and publications for use by students and educators around the world expanding knowledge and appreciation of Jewish communities, lives and traditions.
Friedman says she views this opportunity "as a unique challenge to the way we approach history itself, as something that can be engaged publicly and dynamically.”
Combining Carnegie Mellon’s noted programs with Centropa’s resources could result in collaborations across fields as varied as data science, computer science and fine arts that connect cultures and languages around the world.