$2.5 Million Gift Creates Endowed Professorship in Hebrew Bible
A desire to help people of all religions better understand their common biblical roots was the motivating force behind Munr Kazmir’s $2.5 million gift to create an endowed professorship within the Judaic studies program at GW’s Columbian College of Arts and Sciences.
“I wanted to fulfill a strategic opportunity within the program, as well as build awareness that we are not as different as we seem,” explains Kazmir, a Pakistani immigrant who is of Jewish and Muslim descent. “This gift is from my heart.”
The Meir Kazmir, M.D., Professorship in Hebrew Bible will complement the University’s more than 25 years of scholarship in Judaic studies. GW plans to have a top scholar in place by the fall of 2009.
“This important gift supports the University’s commitment to the field of religious studies and the promotion of cross-cultural understanding,” says GW President Steven Knapp. “The new professorship will strengthen our interdisciplinary curriculum, and I am grateful to Dr. Kazmir for his foresight and generosity.”
The Kazmir Professorship is the first endowed chair to be announced since Knapp became the University’s 16th president, and the second chair to be endowed in the Judaic studies program. The Charles E. Smith Professorship of Judaic Studies was created in 1979.
Robert Eisen, director of the program in Judaic studies and professor of religion at GW, describes the Hebrew Bible as the “foundational text for scholarship” in the Judeo-Christian canon. “The presence of a scholar engaged in the study of the Hebrew Bible will be a critical step in building a stronger Judaic studies program at the University,” he adds.
Kazmir, whose daughter attends GW, is the chief executive officer and founder of Direct Meds Inc., a prescription medicine provider, and Quality Home Care, which serves homeless, indigent, and child patients in New York and New Jersey. He also is CEO and president of the American International School System, a provider of high-quality education for children in Asia and the Middle East, and serves on the board of the National Advisory Council for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
An internationally recognized philanthropist, Kazmir has received numerous humanitarian awards, including recognition from the Be’er Hagolah Institutes in 2005 and the Theodore Herzl Award in 1997 from the Israel Parliament, Prime Minister of Israel, and the Mayor of Jerusalem.
GW’s Judaic studies program plays a critical role in helping students explore Judaism and Jewish culture. The program offers an interdisciplinary curriculum in Jewish history, religion, literature, political science, and Hebrew language. It comprises outstanding faculty who are internationally recognized scholars and enrolls hundreds of students annually.
“Judaism shares much with Christianity and Islam, two of the world’s major religions,” says Peg Barratt, dean of the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences and professor of psychology. “Dr. Kazmir’s generous gift will give GW another world-class faculty member who will enrich all aspects of our religious studies program.”