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KU News Release

May 16, 2005
Contact: Dan Lara, University Relations, (785) 864-8855.

Boyarin named Beren Distinguished Professor in Modern Jewish Studies

LAWRENCE - Jonathan Boyarin will become the Robert M. Beren Distinguished Professor in Modern Jewish Studies at the University of Kansas beginning in the Fall 2005 semester. Boyarin, who resides in New York City, was most recently the Brownstone Visiting Professor of Jewish Studies at Dartmouth College, Hanover, N.H.

" I am excited by this opportunity," Boyarin said. "At KU, I'll be able to realize my personal vision of Jewish studies as a connecting thread through the humanities and the social sciences."

Boyarin earned his bachelor of arts degree in anthropology at Reed College, Portland, Ore.; a doctorate and master's degree, both in anthropology, from the Graduate Faculty of the New School for Social Research, New York City; and a law degree from Yale Law School.

" The Department of Religious Studies is very pleased that Jonathan accepted the offer and is coming to KU," said Paul Mirecki, chairman of the department. "He has an interdisciplinary professorship that will expose many KU students to a variety of scholarly approaches to a major world religion."

Boyarin has written or edited 10 books in Jewish studies and cultural theory. His research interests include East European Jewish culture in the 20th century and Jewish communities in the Middle East and New York City. Much of his work since the early 1990s has been directed at bringing Jews to the attention of cultural theorists and making Jewish studies more conversant with contemporary theory. He also will be a faculty member in KU's History Department.

In addition, Boyarin is working on two current projects: writing a book comparing Jewish differences in the late medieval Europe with the colonial encounter in Spanish Mexico; and translating from Yiddish a major work on Hasidism by Abraham Joshua Heschel.

In addition to Dartmouth College, Boyarin has taught at the New School and at Wesleyan University, Middleton, Ct. He also was an associate with the law firm of Debevoise & Plimpton in New York City.

The Robert M. Beren Foundation of Wichita gave $500,000 to the Kansas University Endowment Association to create the professorship in September 2003. The professorship is part of an ongoing effort to diversify the study of world religions and the humanities at KU. A matching gift was provided through previous gifts from the Hall Family Foundation of Kansas City, Mo.

Robert Beren, a longtime Wichita resident who now lives in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Business School. He is owner and chairman of Berexco Inc., an oil and gas exploration company based in Kansas and is chairman of Beren Corp., an oil and gas production and securities investment company. His foundation provides grants in higher education, human services and Jewish organizations, among others.


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