Marta Kauffman Pledges $4 Million to Brandeis University For African American Studies

Marta Kauffman is giving back to alma mater: The Grace and Frankie co-creator has pledged $4 million to establish an endowed professorship in the African and African American Studies Department at Brandeis University.

The Marta F. Kauffman ’78 Professorship in African and African American Studies will support a scholar with a concentration in the study of the cultures of Africa, according to the university. The gift will also help the department recruit more scholars and teachers, while helping to give students more opportunities to engage in interdisciplinary scholarship.

Kauffman has been outspoken with her regrets about the lack of diversity on her hit show Friends — in front of and behind the camera. She also told Brandeis how “deeply affected” she was by the 2020 murder of George Floyd, a Black man, at the hands of Minneapolis police.

“It took me a long time to begin to understand how I internalized systemic racism,” Kauffman said in a statement. “I’ve been working really hard to become an ally, an anti-racist. And this seemed to me to be a way that I could participate in the conversation from a white woman’s perspective.”

“Brandeis is where I learned to be a human being,” she continued. “This is where my eyes were opened – at least, the beginning of that, they weren’t completely open, I had a lot to learn, but it was the beginning of that. It was the beginning of caring about things beyond my sphere and I credit Brandeis for that.”

“This professorship is so meaningful to both our African and African American Studies Department and to the university,” said President Ron Liebowitz in a statement. “It is the first endowed professorship in the program, which means it will ensure the study of African and African American culture, history, and politics for generations of Brandeis students—something more critical than ever. We are so grateful to Marta for her generosity and vision.”

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