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Gift supports new Holocaust Studies chair

Helene and Allen Apter ’61

Future generations of Lehigh students will gain a deeper understanding of the Holocaust thanks to a generous gift by Helene and Allen Apter ’61.

The couple, who are long-time benefactors of Lehigh’s annual fund and the Philip and Muriel Berman Center for Jewish Studies, have endowed the Helene and Allen Apter ’61 Chair in Holocaust Studies and Ethical Values in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Their gift supports a faculty member with expertise in Holocaust Studies, who will also contribute to broader college initiatives in ethics, values, and social change.

“If you are lucky enough to be able to give gifts while you are alive, you are most fortunate because tzedakah, or charity, is the best way to share. And share we should,” the Apters said in a prepared statement.

The gift also represents the Apters’ belief that education fosters understanding. “We must teach today’s students the true facts about the Holocaust in the hope that it never be forgotten,” they said.

Gregory Farrington, Lehigh president, thanked the Apters for their generosity and foresight. "It is not possible to talk about contemporary history, politics, religion, and a host of other issues without talking about the Holocaust,” he said. “The Apters’ generosity will allow us to bring to South Mountain experts in the field who will give our students and the community greater depth of understanding of the Holocaust and its impact.”

International search underway

With the help of adjunct faculty, Lehigh has long offered programs on the Holocaust through the Berman Center, which is part of the College of Arts and Sciences.

The creation of the chair allows Lehigh to provide students with consistent programming in Holocaust Studies, as well as support for a broad range of initiatives in the areas of ethics, values, and social change already underway in the college and across the university. The chair will also provide opportunities for cross-disciplinary outreach into areas such as history, religion and theology, cultural studies, and literature and film, depending upon the expertise of the scholar selected for the position. An international search is now underway.

Allen Apter graduated from Lehigh in 1961 with a degree in industrial engineering. After graduation, Allen entered his family’s manufacturing business. He took a fledgling business and grew it into R.A. Industries of Lansdale, Pa., which manufactures material handling equipment, specialized chemical pumps, and water treatment and analysis systems.

He serves on the board of the United Jewish Appeal (UJA) Federation in Philadelphia and helped establish the Art Center in Ma’a lot, Israel, which he still supports today. He is also on the board of Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).

Helene Apter is a native of New York City. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Queens College and a master’s degree in development and remedial reading from the City College of New York. She has taught in both New York City and Cheltenham, Pa., and is also involved in charitable work.

The Apters, who reside in Fort Washington, Pa., have two children and three grandchildren.

The Apters’ gift is part of Shine Forever: The Campaign for Lehigh, a $500 million campaign focused on raising endowment for faculty chairs, undergraduate scholarships, academic programs, and student life and athletics, in order to win the finest students and faculty and continually enhance the quality and reputation of the university. With the help of dedicated alumni and friends like the Apters, Lehigh will reach its goal of $500 million within the next five years.

--Janet Norwood

Posted on Wednesday, March 08, 2006

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