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Jewish lecture series gets second $200,000 gift

The College of Idaho has received a second $200,000 gift from the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation to expand the endowment for a new lecture series exploring contemporary Jewish issues.

The endowment gift for the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation Lectureship in Judaic Studies — which brings Jewish dignitaries and public figures to campus to speak about tolerance, diversity, history and current events — strengthens an initiative establishing the College as a center for Jewish studies in the Intermountain West. In October, the lectureship brought distinguished legal scholar Laurie L. Levenson to campus for a discussion of Jewish law and ethics.

C of I President Marv Henberg said the gift will elevate the prominence of the lectureship.

“We already have seen the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation Lectureship foster positive conversations and greater understanding between people of different faiths,” Henberg said. “This new gift will help extend the reach of the lecture series to even more people, and we are grateful for the support of the Foundation.”

The Foundation and its chair, C of I alumnus Ray Neilsen ’88, were major supporters of the College’s recently completed $2.2 million initiative to fund the first fully endowed chair in Judaic studies in the Intermountain West.

Neilsen, a co-trustee of the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation, said the lecture series will complement the work of that new faculty member, who will begin teaching at the College in fall 2014.

“We are very pleased that students at The College of Idaho and the broader public have benefited from the conversations our guest speakers spark while also encouraging greater tolerance, diversity, human rights and interfaith awareness,” Neilsen said.

Founded in 1891, The College of Idaho is the state’s oldest private liberal arts college. It has a century-old tradition of educating some of the most accomplished graduates in Idaho, including seven Rhodes Scholars, three Marshall Scholars, and another 11 Truman and Goldwater Scholars. The College is located on a beautiful campus in Caldwell, Idaho. Its distinctive PEAK curriculum challenges students to attain competencies in the four knowledge peaks of the humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and a professional field, enabling them to graduate with an academic major and three minors in four years.