AMHERST, Mass. – The University of Massachusetts Amherst has announced a $5 million bequest from long-time university supporters Pamela and Robert Jacobs. The gift will establish a named faculty chair and scholarships in Judaic and Near Eastern studies and programming in the Institute for Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies. In addition, it will provide support for UMass Hillel, which offers programming and resources to Jewish students.
The gift is part of the $300 million UMass Rising fundraising campaign. Half of the bequest, $2.5 million, will be used to create the Pamela M. and Robert D. Jacobs Chair in Judaic and Near Eastern Studies within the College of Humanities and Fine Arts.
“Pamela and Robert Jacobs have demonstrated tremendous vision in their commitment to the quality of education and scholarship at UMass Amherst,” said Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy. “Gifts for faculty chairs represent pivotal investments in the intellectual leadership of the university. We are deeply honored to be a part of the Jacobses’ extraordinary philanthropic legacy.”
Both Pamela and Robert Jacobs are graduates of UMass Amherst and active volunteers for the university. Pamela Jacobs, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English in 1969, is a member of the board of directors of the UMass Amherst Foundation. Robert Jacobs received his bachelor’s degree in government in 1968 from UMass Amherst and his law degree from American University in 1971. Robert Jacobs was a founding partner of the Washington, D.C.-based legal advisory and research firm Rock Creek Partners LLC, where he currently serves as senior counsel.
“We have always felt a close connection to UMass Amherst, where we both received an excellent education and had meaningful social experiences,” said Pamela Jacobs. “Giving charitably has always been part of our way of giving back.”
Previously, the couple provided financial support to create the Center for Jewish Studies Endowment and the Robert and Pamela Jacobs Annual Lecture Series in Jewish Culture. They also provided early operating funds and a permanent endowment that enabled the Institute for Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies at UMass Amherst to open its doors.
According to Professor Jay Berkovitz, chair of Judaic and Near Eastern studies, the focus of the new endowed chair will be in the Bible and Rabbinics.
“An endowed chair in Bible and Rabbinics is especially important because it will launch the study of ancient Jewish civilization on our campus and will surely stimulate interest in its broader cultural implications for the fields of history, literature, philosophy and religion,” Berkovitz said. “We are also thrilled that Pamela and Robert have created a scholarship fund to support study at Israeli universities and at other institutions in the U.S. and abroad.”