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$1 Million Pledged for Endowed Professorship, Center for Jewish Studies at University of Hartford

Arnold Greenberg, president and chief executive officer of Coleco Industries, has pledged $1 million to the University of Hartford’s Capital Campaign to establish an endowed professorship in Jewish Studies, it was announced here. The gift, one of the largest in the University’s history, will also be used to start a Center for Jewish Studies.

University of Hartford president Stephen Joel Trachtenberg said at a press conference last week that while the university has received significant gifts for academic programs in the past, “Never before has the university received a gift quite as significant — in terms of both content and generosity — as the one I am announcing today.”

The gift will memorialize Arnold Greenberg’s father, Maurice Greenberg, after whom the endowed chair and the Jewish studies center will be named.

“The professorship in Jewish Studies,” Trachtenberg said, “will be the first step in the creation, at the University of Hartford, of a Center for Jewish Studies that will serve Greater Hartford, New England, the Northeast, and, as a scholarly resource, the field of Jewish Studies writ large.”

ADVISORY BOARD TO DEFINE PROGRAM

He said an advisory board, to be chaired by an eminent scholar in Jewish studies, is being created to provide full definition of the Center and its program. It is expected that the chair in Jewish Studies and the first stage of the Center will be in place by the fall of 1986.

Approximately $750,000 of the Greenberg gift will be set aside for the endowed chair. The remaining $250,000 will be used to start up the Center for Jewish Studies and to launch a major fund-raising campaign on its behalf.

Trachtenberg noted that the University of Hartford has planned and recently announced a broad series of events focusing on the Holocaust of World War II in connection with the launching of the Center for Jewish Studies.

SERIES OF EVENTS SCHEDULED

These events include:

* A special convocation June 4 in memory of the Jews who died in the Terezin concentration camp in World War II, and at which Elie Wiesel, the world-renowned writer on the Holocaust will receive an honorary degree.

* The opening on June 3 of an exhibition entitled “Image and Reality: Jewish Life in Terezin,” at the university’s Joseloff Gallery. The exhibition will run from June 3 to July 29.

“Image and Reality,” which displays the work of more than 50 adult artists imprisoned at the Terezin camp as well as 25 of the famed children’s drawings, also includes camp artifacts, photographs and informational panels prepared by the B’nai B’rith Klutznick Museum in Washington. The Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford will host a simultaneous exhibition entitled “The Precious Legacy.”

* A six-part summer symposium on “The Holocaust in Historical Perspective,” which will be launched June 11 by Dr. David Wyman of the University of Massachusetts, author of The Abandonment of the Jews. Other lecturers will include Bishop Peter Rosazza of the Archdiocese of Hartford, the Rev. Clifford Green of the Hartford Seminary, and Dr. David Ruderman, chairman of Judaic studies at Yale University.

FROM IMMIGRANT TO PHENOMENAL SUCCESS

Maurice Greenberg, after whom the chair and Center for Jewish Studies will be named, came to the United States as a poor, II-year-old immigrant in 1911. He founded the Connecticut Leather Company during the depression in the 1930’s as a wholesaler of shoe repairing supplies.

In later years, his sons Arnold and Leonard built the business, which became Coleco Industries, into one of the most imaginative and successful toy companies in the nation, as evidenced most recently by the phenomenally successful Cabbage Patch Kids products.

Arnold Greenberg serves as a vice chairman of the university’s Board of Regents.

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