Harvard Abandons Search for Chair of Holocaust Studies

University reallocates money, puts position on hold indefinitely

After several years of searching for a scholar to fill a tenured Holocaust studies chair, Harvard has disbanded its search committee and announced that it is presently unable to appoint a scholar to the position.

The chair, named the Helen Zelaznik Professorship for Holocaust and Cognate Studies, was to have been endowed by a gift of more than $3 million from the Kenneth and Evelyn Lipper Foundation.

Traditionally, Holocaust studies have been incorporated into such departments as History, Literature and Government rather than being regarded as a separate discipline.

The Zelaznik Professorship would have been one of the first Holocaust chairs in the United States.

Reached by phone last night, Evelyn Lipper said she and her husband understood the University's decision, even though it was not the result for which they had hoped.

"I think both of us were disappointed, but we understand that Harvard has very high standards," said Evelyn Lipper.

In August of 1994, the Lippers gave the University $1 million, the first installment of their donation towards the establishment of the chair.

They have decided to reallocate this initial donation, which is now worth approximately $1.8 million with interest, to the Lipper Center for Computational Genetics, a program at the Harvard Medical School which develops advanced techniques for genetic research.

"We think that's a really great project, so it was a easy decision to reallocate the funds to the medical school program," said Lipper.

Dean of the Faculty Jeremy R. Knowles praised the Lippers' decision.

"Their decision illustrates the creative and generous support that they have provided over the years," he said in a statement released by the Harvard News Office.

"I am delighted to see the Lippers' funds being put to such immediate good use in the Medical School, and I know that we shall work together in the future toward other needs and opportunities," he added.

Deadlock and Dissolution

The dissolution of the search com- mittee and the reallocation of the Lippers'gift marks the end of a long and controversialstruggle to fill the position.

The five-member search committee, whichincluded Faculty members from the Government,History, and Near Eastern Languages andCivilizations Departments, was deadlocked over thelegitimacy of a Holocaust post as well as thequestion of who should fill the position.