Putting Values Into Action


From left, Alan L. Berger, Ph.D., Linda Medvin, Laurie Carney and Michael Horswell. Photography by Jultmartin Eugene.

Putting Values Into Action

$20 Million Gift Helps Build Hub for Holocaust and Jewish Studies on Boca Raton Campus

For Kurt and Marilyn Wallach, the Holocaust is personal. Family members were lost during this horrific event, which led them to share a lifelong commitment to ensure its lessons remain relevant today and in the future.

Thanks to a historic $20 million gift — the largest in FAU’s history — from the couple in November 2020, FAU will become a key location for intercultural dialogue and education in South Florida, and will empower the next generation of change-makers.

The Wallachs’ transformational gift includes $10 million to construct the Kurt and Marilyn Wallach Holocaust and Jewish Studies Building, a distinctive facility on FAU’s Boca Raton campus that will serve as the hub for Holocaust and Jewish studies, human rights education and leadership training. It also will memorialize the 6 million Jews and other victims of the Holocaust, honor its survivors, and offer educational programs that champion social justice, compassion and understanding through enhanced collaborations.

The Wallach building will bring together signature FAU programs, including the:

  • Arthur and Emalie Gutterman Family Center for Holocaust and Human Rights Education
  • Raddock Family Eminent Scholar in Holocaust Studies
  • Herbert and Elaine Gimelstob Eminent Scholar in Jewish Studies
  • Jewish Studies Program
  • Center for Peace, Justice and Human Rights
  • Leon Charney Diplomacy Program
  • Barb Schmidt Fellowship in Cultivating Community Involvement, Advocacy and Social Change
the late Kurt Wallach
"We speak for those who cannot speak, and we remember all the victims, including our family members, who perished needlessly. No one should ever be subjected to such horror. We hope that through the education we can provide, that lives will be saved and history will not be repeated."

— the late Kurt Wallach

people inside the Holocaust Museum

Past Events: Holocaust Memorial Museum Event

The second half of the Wallachs’ donation is a $10 million estate gift that establishes the Wallach Institute for Holocaust and Jewish Studies. It will fund faculty and staff, visiting scholars, lectures, educational outreach, scholarships and fellowships, study abroad opportunities, research, programming, equipment, capital expenditures or building improvements, and related activities with a mission to deter hate, bias and discrimination.

In September 2021, Kurt Wallach passed away. However, the Wallach Building and Institute will carry on his legacy and desire to educate the community about the Holocaust and its atrocities.

“We believe education is our best hope against hatred,” said Michael J. Horswell, Ph.D., dean of the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters. “The philanthropy that the Wallach family invested in FAU and the greater South Florida community will ensure that the lessons of the past are relevant today and into perpetuity, providing the resources to teach the importance of understanding history, speaking up, and acting against all forms of bigotry and prejudice.”

The Wallachs’ gift builds on FAU’s traditions of excellence. The Raddock Family Eminent Scholar Chair for Holocaust Studies was the first Holocaust chair established in Florida. It is held by Alan L. Berger, Ph.D., whose research and teaching have impacted our region for decades. The Herbert and Elaine Gimelstob Eminent Scholar in Jewish Studies Chair is another scholarly resource that enriches the university and community through research, public lectures and international conferences. Additionally, the Arthur and Emalie Gutterman Family Center for Holocaust and Human Rights Education has provided teachers with training for the teaching of the Holocaust for the past 25 years.

FAU’s Center for Peace, Justice and Human Rights is a university-wide effort that brings together scholars, students, practitioners and community leaders who are engaged in the themes of social justice, human rights, peace and nonviolence. Within the center, the Leon Charney Diplomacy Program offers students interested in international affairs opportunities to enhance their diplomatic skills in areas such as speechwriting, public speaking, negotiation, dispute resolution and research. Also, the Barb Schmidt Fellowship offers high school students a platform to develop the essential skills for driving social change.

“We are honored and grateful for Kurt and Marilyn Wallach’s enormous generosity,” FAU President John Kelly said. “This historic gift will ensure that, through education, we continue to build bridges of understanding and empathy for generations to come.”

If you would like more information, please contact us at dorcommunications@fau.edu.