The establishment of academic Jewish Studies positions and programs at a significant number of public and private North American institutions of higher education during the final third of the twentieth century is an interesting and complex phenomenon. In these remarks, the author provides a brief historical overview of academic Jewish Studies in North America and reflects on the present state of Jewish Studies programs in secular higher education settings and their ongoing challenges and future prospects. Her conclusions are neither comprehensive nor data-driven nor do they focus on the vibrant and excellent scholarship that characterizes Jewish Studies in 2013.
Rather, the paper is based on the research of other scholars and the author’s experiences as a professor and administrator in Jewish Studies programs and departments at three public universities and one private university over the past four decades and as President of the Association for Jewish Studies between 2004 and 2006.
The author also draws on her larger administrative perspective as an academic dean, since 2009, for seventeen Humanities departments and programs at the University of Oregon. The essay focuses on undergraduate Jewish Studies; the topics discussed are: Jewish Studies in North America: An Overview; Women and Academic Jewish Studies; Jewish Studies Instruction; Connections with Jewish Students and Jewish Organizations; Links with Israel; Other International Relationships; Donors and Endowments; Present Realities and Future Challenges.