SF State announces endowed chair in American Jewish Studies

John & Marcia Goldman Foundation donates $1 million for new chair

SAN FRANCISCO, March 13, 2013 – San Francisco State University announced today the creation of the John & Marcia Goldman Endowed Chair in American Jewish Studies, funded by a $1 million gift from the John & Marcia Goldman Foundation. It is the first gift from the John & Marcia Goldman Foundation to the University and creates the seventh endowed chair in the University’s history.

A photo of the SFSU sign.

The senior level position strengthens the University’s Department of Jewish Studies, adding to the two existing endowed chairs: The Richard and Rhoda Goldman Chair in Jewish Studies and Social Responsibility, held by Professor Marc Dollinger; and the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Professor in Israel Studies, held by Associate Professor Eran Kaplan.

“We have been greatly impressed with the level of excellence of Jewish studies at San Francisco State and the community’s embrace of this department. Our motivation for endowing a chair in American Jewish Studies was to add further academic depth and breadth, and to provide students and faculty with additional resources for study and exploration,” says John Goldman, president of the John & Marcia Goldman Foundation.

“I am pleased to accept this generous gift that builds on a decades-long relationship, enabling the University to create a center of excellence in Jewish Studies,” said President Les Wong.

The creation of a third endowed chair in American Jewish Studies will bring the department to a total of five full-time faculty, enabling the University to offer students both specialization in American Jewish studies and increased breadth in relationship to other dimensions of Jewish Studies. The Bachelor of Arts in Modern Jewish Studies is designed to provide an understanding of the Jewish people and Judaism by examining the interactions of culture, history and religion.

“This gift will have a profound impact on learning, enabling us to realize our long-term strategy for Jewish Studies, which strives to engage a wide array of Jewish subjects in the university curriculum and in serious conversation with the Bay Area community,” said Fred Astren, professor and chair of the Department of Jewish Studies. “We are both excited and tremendously grateful.”

The new endowed chair will allow the Department of Jewish Studies to offer additional courses and a greater variety of courses, reflecting the interdisciplinary nature of the department.

“The scholarship of American Jewish studies is significant, particularly for the San Francisco area and the West, which has offered a very different experience for Jews than anywhere else in the country,” said Dollinger. “So many trends in American Jewish life have started in the West. Locating this endowed chair at San Francisco State University will strengthen our understanding of this region's particular role in the development of larger Jewish trends.”

SF State is the only Bay Area university to have a free-standing Department of Jewish Studies offering undergraduate study. Founded in 1993 as the first Jewish Studies program in the CSU, Jewish Studies became a department in 2008. The curriculum attracts a diverse group of students from many racial and ethnic backgrounds, including participants in the University's community outreach programs. The program offers a bachelor's degree in modern Jewish studies and a minor in Jewish studies.


SF State is the only master’s level public university serving the counties of San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin.  The university enrolls nearly 30,000 students each year.  With nationally acclaimed programs in a range of fields – from creative writing, cinema and biology to history, philosophy, art and ethnic studies – the University’s more than 212,000 graduates have contributed to the economic cultural and civic fabric of San Francisco and beyond.