A story in Inside Higher Ed about increasing efforts to attract more Jewish applicants or build Jewish student life on campus at colleges and universities across the country mentioned Washington and Lee’s campaign for HIllel House and quoted Hillel executive director Joan Robins as expressing her hopes that construction of the planned $4-million structure will be “transformative.” Recently, W&L Rector Don Childress directed that $500,000 of his $5-million gift to the University be used as a challenge to finish the fundraising for Hillel. In describing his gift, Childress indicated he was motivated to choose Hillel as one of the projects he wanted to support because he hoped that W&L could increase the number of Jewish students at the University to the levels that he remembered when he was a student. Childress graduated in 1970.
Joan Robins, incidentally, has recently returned from a meeting sponsored by Hillel International to recognize and support a cohort of seven colleges with small Jewish enrollments and have excellent Hillel programs with just one Hillel professional. The institutions are Bowdoin, Colgate, Franklin & Marshall, Lehigh, Middlebury, Washington and Lee, and Williams. The meeting was held at F&M, which just opened a new Center for Jewish Life.