The Howard Berger- Ray Neilsen Chair in Judaic Studies

Building on its traditional strength in religious and historical studies, The College of Idaho has established an endowed faculty Chair in Judaic Studies. 

Establishing A Chair in Judaic Studies

The Howard Berger-Ray Neilsen Chair in Judaic Studies, the first of its kind in Idaho and the Intermountain West, fosters greater understanding and appreciation of Jewish traditions, culture, and philosophy.

Dr. Federica Francesconi, a widely-published scholar of Jewish history and culture and Jewish-Christian relations, joined the C of I faculty in September 2014 as the inaugural holder of the Berger-Neilsen Chair.

In this capacity she has begun building an interdisciplinary Judaic Studies curriculum and coordinating a public lecture and performance series that addresses contemporary issues, and promotes discussions of tolerance, human rights and interfaith awareness far beyond our campus.

Details about the College's Judaic Studies activities, programming and curriculum are available here.

NEH Matching Funds

In 2011 The College of Idaho received a five-year, $500,000 matching grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). These funds, matched by more than $2 million raised by the C of I, have been used to establish the Berger-Neilsen Chair in Judaic Studies and associated programming.

This funding initiative has received enthusiastic and widespread support. In just four years gifts from hundreds of donors have built this endowment to more than $2.5 million.

Significant gifts from the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation have helped create a lectureship to promote greater understanding of Jewish traditions, culture and philosophy. Although the lecture series is supported through a challenge grant from the NEH, any views, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this series do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The Chair in Judaic Studies is part of The College of Idaho's Advance The Legacy campaign, which will raise $175 million in gifts and pledges by 2016, the College's 125th anniversary. The Chair is named in honor of Dr. Howard Berger, one of the College's most beloved professors, and alumnus Ray Neilsen ('88) whose generous contributions have helped the College exceed its fundraising goal well ahead of schedule.

To Make a Gift

Commitments to the Chair may be made as an outright gift of cash, securities or other property; through your estate; through a charitable remainder trust; or as a pledge. Gifts and pledges paid by July 2015 count toward the NEH matching grant.

The College always has relied on friends and alumni to maintain the tradition of excellence and achievement that Dr. Boone envisioned.  We invite you to consider being part of this legacy of exceptional education, service, and community involvement through the Chair in Judaic Studies.