FAU receives $20 million gift to create an institute for Holocaust and Jewish studies

The gift from Kurt and Marilyn Wallach is the largest in school history.


The Kurt and Marilyn Wallach Institute for Holocaust and Jewish Studies will be housed in the College of Arts and Letters. Photo courtesy of College of Arts and Letters.

Zachary Weinberger , Editor-in-Chief

FAU announced Wednesday that they have received the largest gift in school history of $20 million, courtesy of Kurt and Marilyn Wallach. They are managing partners of K&M Capital and general partners at Vero Beach-based Kurtell Growth Industries, a commercial real estate firm

The money will be used to create the “Kurt and Marilyn Wallach Institute for Holocaust and Jewish Studies,” which will be within the university’s College of Arts and Letters.

Kurt Wallach and his family fled Germany in 1933 when his father was being targeted for assassination by the Nazi Party. The family escaped to Holland, but with the family predicting further danger, they rode on the Queen Mary to sail to New York and then moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where Wallach’s brother was. 

According to the press release, Kurt and Marilyn Wallach “share a lifelong commitment to educating on the Holocaust to ensure the lessons of this horrific point in our world’s history remains relevant today and to future generations.”

“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 the education we can provide that lives will be saved and history will not be repeated.”

While we know the 20 million dollar gift will be used to make the institute for Holocaust and Jewish studies, the announcement released by FAU specifically states their plans to use the amount to the fullest.

Part of the gift will be used for the actual construction of the building or addition to Arts and Letters. The building is said to be a hub “for Holocaust, human rights and Jewish studies education programs; allied programs related to creating greater interfaith and interethnic understanding; and will encourage enhanced collaborations to strengthen the prominence of these programs.”

Another portion of the gift will go to 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.”

“We are honored and grateful for Kurt and Marilyn Wallach’s enormous generosity,” FAU President John Kelly said. “This historic gift will ensure that Holocaust, Jewish studies, and human rights education will continue to build bridges of understanding and empathy for generations to come.”

The Wallachs are also a part of the founders society members for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum where they are benefactors listed under “estate commitments of five million dollars or more.”

“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,” Michael J. Horswell, Dean of FAU’s Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters said. “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.”

The press release reads that if any individual wants to donate to the future Holocaust and Jewish studies institute, they are to contact Laurie Carney, FAU’s Senior Director of Development and Outreach.

Zachary Weinberger is the Editor-in-Chief of the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @ZachWeinberger.