Brandeis U gets $8.4 million bequest for social-justice inititatives


(JTA) — Brandeis University has received an $8.4 million bequest gift for social-justice initiatives from a man who visited the campus one time.

The university announced the gift from Seymour Bluestone on Tuesday. Bluestone, a former rehabilitation doctor who visited Brandeis just once, but felt a strong connection to its social-justice values, died in September at the age of 96.

Bluestone, who had lived in Clearwater, Florida, began making small gifts to Brandeis in the 1990s at the request of family friends. He visited the campus in 2000, where he learned about a number of Brandeis programs. Over lunch, he and Prof. Laurence Simon, the founding director of the Sustainable International Development program at the university’s Heller School for Social Policy and Management, began a discussion about poverty and other global issues which remained with him.

In 2001, Bluestone created the Jesse F. and Dora H. Bluestone Scholarship, in memory of his parents, to support students in the Sustainable International Development program, along with the Myra Kraft Transitional Year Program. Bluestone’s bequest will provide financial aid for up to five students in the SID program in future years, and support research and program development in the Center for Global Development and Sustainability, also at the Heller School.  The gift also will help students enrolled in Kraft program.

Currently in its 50th year, the Myra Kraft Transitional Year Program prepares talented students from poorly funded high schools for a competitive liberal-arts curriculum through a combination of small classes, rigorous academics and strong academic support.

Bluestone was born in Brooklyn in 1921. A graduate of Cornell University and the New York University School of Medicine, Bluestone served as a medical officer in the U.S. Army in Korea from 1945-1947, reaching the rank of captain. Later, he held a number of medical positions, including serving for 10 years as director of the New York State Rehabilitation Hospital, where he expanded medical and research services, and promoted staff education.