Judaic studies lecture series receives $200,000 gift

The College of Idaho has received a $200,000 gift from the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation that will help endow a lecture series exploring contemporary Jewish issues and strengthen an initiative that establishes the College as a center for Jewish studies in the Intermountain West.

The gift will add to the endowment 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.

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.

C of I President Marv Henberg said that together, the Howard Berger-Ray Neilsen Chair in Judaic Studies and the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation Lectureship in Judaic Studies will promote greater understanding of issues affecting the Jewish community in Idaho and the West.

“We are grateful for the support that the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation has given to the College’s lecture series,” Henberg said. “The series will play a significant role in fostering more dialogue and understanding between people of different faiths and backgrounds in Idaho and beyond.”

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

“Students at The College of Idaho and the broader public will benefit from the conversations our guest speakers will 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. For more information on The College of Idaho, visit