Murray Baumgarten Endowed Chair in Jewish Studies

Murray Baumgarten, emeritus professor of Literature, was born on a boat traveling from Europe to Panama on the eve of World War II. After spending time in the refugee Jewish community of Colon, Panama, Baumgarten immigrated to America, where he earned degrees from Columbia University and UC Berkeley, before coming to the newly created UC Santa Cruz in 1967. A scholar of 19th century British literature, he helped co-found the world renowned Dickens Project. Although the new university did not have a program in Jewish Studies, Baumgarten and a few colleagues decided to create courses in Jewish history and culture to fill the void. Eventually, with the help of a grant from the Helen Diller Family Foundation, Baumgarten founded the Jewish Studies program and created an undergraduate major. 

Over 150 donors contributed to establish the new Murray Baumgarten Endowed Chair in Jewish Studies, in the Center for Jewish Studies, located in The Humanities Institute at UC Santa Cruz.