Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Kent donation to fund Judaic Studies travel
When Bernie and Nina Kent decided to make an endowed gift to Oakland University, they wanted their donation to make a difference in a new way.
“We had decided that we wanted to make an endowed gift to the university, but we did not know where we wanted the fund to be used,” explained Bernie Kent, SBA, ’71. “When we heard about the Judaic Studies program, we knew we had found our niche.”
The Kents have established the Bernard and Nina Kent Judaic Studies Endowed Israel Travel Fund. Their gift will support enrichment travel for students in the program, including participation in archeological digs, internships and other travel abroad opportunities.
“The Judaic Studies program presented us with the chance to be in on the ground floor of a new program,” Kent said. “Providing support for a student to travel to Israel as part of the program enhances the attractiveness of the program and enriches the education of the students.”
The Judaic Studies minor in the College of Arts and Sciences was launched in 2007 as part of the Religious Studies program. The minor is designed to help foster understanding, tolerance and a broader knowledge base of the world. The minor consists of 20 credits, including an introductory religion course that provides a comparative grounding for understanding Judaism in relation to other major religious systems.
Other classes are taught on the subjects of civilization and culture, history and archeology, and literature and folklore. In addition, students may chose to complete a Jewish community service internship or an independent study.
The Kents believe that the travel opportunities will be an essential component of the total Judaic Studies program experience.
“We know many, many people who have traveled to Israel. Without exception, they have felt that this experience had an important impact on their life. For some, it was a life-changing event,” said Kent. “We felt that this opportunity should be made available to Oakland students, particularly those taking the minor in Judaic Studies.”
Students with a minimum grade point average of 3.0 may apply for the endowment award by submitting an application and a detailed description of the proposed enrichment, educational or work experience plan in Israel.
Kent said that the endowed gift is a logical step in his relationship with the university, “Oakland University is an integral part of the southeast Michigan Community. As a proud alumnus, it is important to provide financial support where we think it will make the most impact.”