UVM's Holocaust Center Receives Award from New England Higher Ed Board
The New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE) has chosen the Carolyn and Leonard Miller Center for Holocaust Studies at the University of Vermont as the recipient of its 2016 Robert J. McKenna Award for Program Achievement.
- By Jeffrey R. Wakefield
The New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE) has chosen the Carolyn and Leonard Miller Center for Holocaust Studies at the University of Vermont as the recipient of its 2016 Robert J. McKenna Award for Program Achievement. The award was presented at NEBHE’s 2016 New England Higher Education Excellence Awards Dinner in Boston on March 4, 2016. Four hundred higher education, government and business leaders from the region were in attendance.
“The Robert J. McKenna Award for Program Achievement represents recognition for the highest level of learning by an institution of higher education that goes beyond the ‘ivory tower’ and reaches the community,” said Michael Wool, a senior partner at Langrock Sperry & Wool in Burlington, UVM alumnus and NEBHE chair. “The Carolyn & Leonard Miller Center for Holocaust Studies of the University of Vermont exemplifies higher education programming at the highest level.”
“UVM’s Carolyn and Leonard Miller Center for Holocaust Studies is one of the preeminent centers in the world for the study of the Holocaust,” said UVM president Tom Sullivan. “We’re pleased that NEBHE has recognized its many contributions to understanding the Holocaust, to educating new Holocaust scholars and to maintaining awareness among undergraduates and the public at large of the scope and nature of the Holocaust.”
"We are greatly honored to receive this award,” said Alan Steinweis, director of the Holocaust Center. “It recognizes the collective efforts of many people in the extended UVM community -- faculty, administrators, students, donors and local supporters -- who have contributed to the success of the center since its founding a quarter century ago. "
The Carolyn and Leonard Miller Center for Holocaust Studies at the University of Vermont promotes scholarship, education and public awareness about the events that brought about, comprise and continue to issue from the Holocaust. Drawing upon the expertise of a distinguished faculty from across the university, the Miller Center offers an undergraduate minor field in Holocaust Studies and supports graduate training in the disciplinary departments. Among the many public events sponsored by the center are the annual Raul Hilberg Memorial Lecture and the Miller Symposium, an important intellectual forum for leading Holocaust scholars from around the world.
The serious academic study of the Holocaust began at UVM when the young scholar Raul Hilberg was recruited to join the Political Science Department at UVM in 1956 after completing his doctorate at Columbia. Hilberg would spend his entire academic career at UVM, eventually retiring in 1991. In 1961 he published his path breaking book, The Destruction of the European Jews, which remains to this day a foundational, standard work about the subject. Upon Hilberg’s retirement, faculty at UVM founded the Center for Holocaust Studies in order to perpetuate UVM’s standing in the field. Instrumental in the founding of the center and the minor in Holocaust Studies were professors of German David Scrase and Wolfgang Mieder. Scrase served as founding director of the center for 15 years. After Hilberg’s retirement, UVM’s basic course on the Holocaust was shifted to the Department of History, where it has been offered continuously to the present day, first by Doris Bergen and then by Jonathan Huener.
In 2006, Leonard (’51) and Carolyn Miller, who had previously endowed the center’s bi-annual symposium, made a gift of five million dollars to UVM to support Holocaust Studies. The Center for Holocaust Studies was renamed in their honor. While three of the five million was earmarked for the renovation of the historic Billings Library, where the center will ultimately be housed, two million were used to endow distinguished professorships in Holocaust Studies -- the Raul Hilberg Distinguished Professorship, currently held by Francis Nicosia, and the Leonard and Carolyn Miller Distinguished Professorship, currently held by Alan Steinweis.
The New England Board of Higher Education is an interstate compact founded in 1955 by the six New England governors that promotes greater educational opportunities and services for the residents of New England.