Education is a gift that keeps on giving—especially when generous donors invest in the next generation of learners.
Florida Atlantic University received its largest gift in school history: $20 million from donors Kurt and Marilyn Wallach. The gift will result in the Kurt and Marilyn Wallach Institute for Holocaust and Jewish Studies and a building (or building addition) at FAU’s Boca Raton campus. The institute will be housed in FAU’s Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters and the new construction will become a hub for Holocaust, human rights and Jewish studies education programs as well as allied programs related to creating greater interfaith and interethnic understanding. The gift also will create an endowment to support the future establishment and operation of the new institute, which will integrate and coordinate research, service and/or educational offerings in these disciplinary areas and related programs with a mission to deter hate, bias and discrimination.
The Wallachs’ commitment to educating on the Holocaust is personal. to educating on the Holocaust. Kurt Wallach’s parents, along with Kurt, 7 years old at the time, and his two siblings, fled Magdeburg, Germany in 1933 when his father, Mark, learned that the Nazis were targeting him for assassination. The family escaped to Scheveningen, a seaside suburb of The Hague in Holland. Then in 1936, once again sensing impending danger, Mark secured passage for his family on the Queen Mary to New York. The family then boarded a train to Cleveland, where Mark’s brother lived, to begin a new life in the United States. He has written Remembering Mark: A Biography of a Father and Kurt’s Journey and three textbooks on the Holocaust.
“We speak for those who cannot speak. We remember all the victims including our family members who perished needlessly,” Kurt Wallach said. “No one should ever be subjected to such horror. We hope that through education we can provide that lives will be saved and history will not be repeated.”
The Wallachs, whose son is an FAU alumnus, are founding supporters of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and sponsors of the Indian River County Humane Society. The managing partners for K&M Capital and general partners for Kurtell Growth Industries, Ltd., a real estate investment corporation, also serve as board members for the Exchange Club Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse of the Treasure Coast, Inc.
“Kurt Wallach’s commitment to keeping the lessons of the Holocaust alive through his writing and teaching testimonials has long inspired us. Now, Kurt and Marilyn’s momentous gift to the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters will allow us to consolidate and grow our Holocaust and Jewish Studies programs by providing a central space on campus for our various allied initiatives,” said Michael J. Horswell, Ph.D., dean of FAU’s Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters. “We hope that the future Wallach Building will also include a lecture hall, as well as an exhibition and reception space for traveling educational exhibits to engage students and our South Florida community in the important history of the Holocaust and related social justice topics. It is crucial that we keep the lessons alive for future generations, so those kinds of atrocities are never repeated.”