Hebrew Studies at the University of Melbourne receives generous gift

The Hebrew Studies will possess Australia’s leading course in Hebrew language and Jewish culture, thanks to a generous gift from a University of Melbourne alumnus on his 95th birthday.

Dr Israel Kipen, who has been involved in Victorian education for more than half a century, has worked closely with the university to form the Dr Israel Kipen Lectureship in Hebrew Studies.

University of Melbourne Faculty of Arts
Study at the University of Melbourne

The gift will provide significant ongoing support that will underpin the lectureship in Hebrew Studies within the Program in Jewish Culture and Society—the only one of its kind in Victoria. The lectureship will enable the continued teaching of the Hebrew language and literature, and contribute to the understanding of Jewish history, culture and society at the University of Melbourne.

Dr Kipen migrated to Melbourne from Poland in 1946, following the end of the Second World War. He quickly established himself as a knitwear manufacturer and educationalist, and was one of the founders of Bialik College in 1963. Dr Kipen was on the school executive of Mount Scopus College (1949–58) and helped found the immigration reception resource, the Bialystoker Centre.

Dr Kipen later studied at the university, completing a Bachelor of Arts (1980) and Master of Arts (1982). In 2007, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the university, acknowledging his long involvement in Australian education and the Australian Jewish community.

Dr Dvir Abramovich, Director of the Program in Jewish Culture and Society and the Dr Israel Kipen Lecturer in Hebrew Studies, said the gift would ensure the Hebrew language retained a strong base at the university.

“This generous endowment significantly adds to the momentum, presence and future vitality of the Program in Jewish Culture and Society, and ensures we can keep offering subjects in Hebrew language and literature to our students and the public,” he said.

“Dr Israel Kipen has always cared deeply and profoundly about fostering Jewish education and learning, and this gift is a testament to the values he holds dear.

“The endowment gives a permanence to Hebrew Studies, a field that has had a home at the University of Melbourne for more than 60 years, and I am proud to carry on the unique and proud legacy Dr Kipen has helped to create and hope to follow in his footsteps.”

Professor Mark Considine, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, welcomed Dr Kipen’s generosity. He said it reflected well on the depth of the faculty’s undergraduate program.

“The Faculty of Arts offers Melbourne’s original and oldest degree and retains a strong commitment to excellence across a wide range of subjects in the humanities, social sciences and languages that engage students,” he said. “Dr Kipen’s gift supports a lectureship that has enriched academic life at the university and enables us to continue teaching the best and brightest students.”

University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Glyn Davis AC, thanked Dr Kipen for his generosity. He said Dr Kipen’s gift was one of the many positive results of the University’s largest-ever philanthropic campaign, Believe – the Campaign for the University of Melbourne.

“Friends and alumni of the university have committed themselves to supporting a university that continues to provide world-class teaching in a stimulating academic environment,” he said.

“Dr Kipen has been a longtime supporter of the university and we are immensely grateful that he has chosen to uphold the valuable Hebrew research and teaching program at the university.”

Believe – the Campaign for the University of Melbourne aims to raise more than $500 million by the end of 2017. The campaign will educate tomorrow’s leaders, find answers to the world’s grand challenges, and enrich communities near and far.

Melbourne School of Historical and Philosophical Studies

The School of Historical and Philosophical Studies was formed in 2011 comprising the programs of History, History and Philosophy of Science, Philosophy, Classics and Archaeology, and the Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation and the Program in Jewish Culture and Society.

The school brings together a lively, engaging and vibrant program of teaching and research which offers a wide variety of courses and subjects. The school offerings give students an opportunity to extend their knowledge and understanding of their historical interests in a range of diverse contexts, as well as to develop the students’ capacity to analyze, think critically and communicate effectively. The school offers both breadth and depth, covering through its subjects a diversity of times, places, and themes which reflect the latest developments in historical research and vocational practice.


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