May 13, 2008; South Florida Sun-Sentinel; FAU looking for money to keep Holocaust center open, Legislators pushing to keep it open; by Scott Travis.
A Holocaust center at Florida Atlantic University could lose all its state funding, alarming its supporters, including South Florida members of Congress.
FAU officials say they are committed to keeping the Center for Holocaust and Human Rights Education open, but they need to raise private dollars. The center, at FAU's Boca Raton campus, provides the Holocaust studies curriculum for seven county school districts, including Palm Beach and Broward. It also offers professional development and a lending library.
The budget is about $200,000 a year, about half of which is state-funded through FAU.
"The $100,000 is 15 to 20 sections of freshmen math or English," Provost John Pritchett said. "If we said, 'OK, we're going to maintain the center,' students would not have those classes."
Six members of Congress sent letters to FAU President Frank Brogan urging him to find the money.
"It is essential that FAU keep this prestigious Center open at a time when the scourge of genocide as well as anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial continues globally," said Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Delray Beach.
Also signing the letter were Reps. Ron Klein, D-Boca Raton; Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar; Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston; Lincoln Diaz-Balart, R-Miami; and Kendrick Meek, D-Miami.
FAU Provost John Pritchett said the university is seeking help for two years to keep the center open. After that, he's optimistic the state's budget will be better, and the university can restore its funding. He said he's heard from people who said they would help raise money.
The Boca Raton-based League for the Educational Awareness of the Holocaust, or LEAH, contributes $100,000 to the center for programming. FAU is asking the organization to continue its funding and help it secure the additional money.
"I don't know that LEAH can do it alone," said Connie Packman, president emeritus and one of the founders of the group. She said several donors have expressed interest in helping out.
LEAH plans to discuss the situation at a meeting Thursday, she said.
Pritchett said several other university centers are also being targeted for closing, but he wouldn't identify them.
He said Brogan would have recommendations for the FAU Board of Trustees soon.
Anyone interested in donating can contact the provost's office at 561-297-2011 or LEAH at 561-393-9717.
Scott Travis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 561-243-6637.
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