Stanford Report Online

Stanford Report, September 26, 2001

$2.5 million gift to endow new Taube Center for Jewish Studies


The Taube Family Foundation has committed approximately $2.5 million to endow the Taube Center for Jewish Studies at Stanford.

The center will give the university's Program in Jewish Studies increased stability and more opportunity to expand its curriculum, organize conferences and fund research, said history Professor Steven Zipperstein, the newly appointed co-director of the center.

The center's full endowment will total about $5 million. This is because roughly $2.2 million of the Taube contribution will be equaled by money from the Hewlett Foundation's $300 million gift to the School of Humanities and Sciences, half of which has been earmarked as matching funds. In addition, the Taube family earlier gave close to $600,000 to the university, including matching money from the San Francisco-based Koret Foundation, that will go to the center.

Stanford alumnus Tad Taube, head of his family's foundation and president of the Koret Foundation, was a major force behind the center's creation.

"I came to the decision really rather readily," Taube said. "It provided finality to some 15 years of effort and personal involvement with Jewish studies at Stanford."

Indeed, Taube played a significant role in launching the Jewish Studies Program in 1986. His success in securing a large collection of Judaica from Salo Wittmayer Baron, the late professor emeritus at Columbia University, helped to lay a much-needed research foundation for the program, Zipperstein said.

The collection contains nearly 20,000 scholarly volumes valued at more than $1 million. The library's Judaica collection has since grown to nearly 80,000 volumes.

Taube also established the Jewish Studies Executive Advisory Committee. The committee, of which he is chair, has helped to shape the program and organize financial support for it over the past 15 years. During this time, Taube and his family have continued to generously support Jewish Studies at Stanford and inspire others to do the same. The program also has received contributions from many other supporters.

The Taube Center "places Stanford in the enviable position for building creatively on its already considerable strengths," Taube said. "It also provides Jewish Studies with assurance of financial stability and the prospect to be a permanent fixture on the Stanford scene."

Gaining prominence

Stanford's Jewish Studies Program is widely recognized as one of the foremost such university programs in the nation. It boasts 10 faculty members, including three endowed chairs, and an endowed curatorship. More than 15 graduate students study under the program, and each is guaranteed four to five years of research funding and additional funding for language studies. Hundreds of undergraduates enroll in program courses, and many pursue minor degrees, participate in the honors program or design their own major.

The program also organizes five endowed lectures, which bring distinguished scholars to campus each year, as well as several symposia and colloquia. In addition, Taube Center co-directors Zipperstein, the Daniel E. Koshland Professor in Jewish Culture and History, and Aron Rodrigue, the Eva Chernov Lokey Professor in Jewish Studies, edit Jewish Social Studies: History, Culture and Society.

"For a long time it has been clear that Jewish Studies is in fact more of a center than a program," Zipperstein said. "In other words, Jewish Studies is centrally involved in promoting graduate, undergraduate as well as faculty research -- and it sponsors a wide array of faculty conferences, publishes the leading journal in the field and organizes many other projects."

In light of the new funding, the program likely will hold more graduate student conferences, create more undergraduate research opportunities and engage in new publishing ventures, Zipperstein said

The center is housed among the offices of the Program in Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity in Building 240, where it will remain at least for the near future, Zipperstein said.

"I think the general consensus is that we want to use the money for programmatic and academic expenses rather than space," he said.

Bay Area philanthropist

Tad Taube, who earned a bachelor's degree here in industrial engineering in 1954 and a master's degree in industrial management in 1957, and his family have been longtime Stanford backers.

Taube has served on the Hoover Institution's Board of Overseers since 1993 and currently serves as a member of its executive committee; he is a founding member of the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research and immediate past chair of its advisory board. Taube also serves on the executive committee of the Stanford Athletic Board.