Ties to the Jewish Population Result in Partnerships
That Strengthen Both Communities
Maryville University, founded in 1872, is a four-year, private university located in West St. Louis County. Ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of America’s Best Colleges in the Regional Universities (Midwest) category, Maryville offers 50 academic programs, including degrees at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels. More than 16,000 of Maryville’s 21,000 alumni work and live in the St. Louis region.
We’re proud of our founding principles and values, which are very much a part of Maryville today. They are universal in scope and include commitment to such ideals as liberal arts education, cultural diversity, ethical leadership, global awareness and community service. These principles are shared by the Jewish community as well.
Although Maryville was originally founded by the Religious of the Sacred Heart, a Catholic religious order, Maryville has been non-sectarian since 1972, and continues to broaden its growing student population.
Enhancing Jewish Student and Faculty Connections
Today’s Maryville is an increasingly diverse blending of women and men, from many different cultures and faiths. In fact, cultural diversity is a stated Core Value of the University. Given Maryville’s location, only minutes away in all directions from Reform, Conservative, Orthodox and Traditional congregations, Maryville has a unique opportunity to enhance this diversity by strengthening its ties with the Jewish community.
Strengthening these ties has become an even greater priority over recent years. As Maryville enrolls increasing numbers of students from outside of the St. Louis area who cannot always return home for weekends and Jewish holidays, the need to create an environment in which Jewish students feel comfortable—where they can meet other Jewish students, celebrate holiday traditions and connect with the community around them—increases.
Reaching Out to the Jewish Community: Building Partnerships
Key to Maryville’s involvement in the Jewish community are the growing number of partnerships the University has developed in recent years.
Dr. Karen Tabak, Professor of Accounting in Maryville’s John E. Simon School of Business, has been deeply involved in the Jewish community for many years. She served as president of Congregation B’nai Amoona and has served on several subcommittees of Jewish Federation. She has also served on the board of Solomon Schechter Day School and as president of ORT (Organization for Educational Resources and Technological Training).
Dr. Tabak has been leading efforts on campus to create a Jewish presence that nurtures the bonds between Jewish students at Maryville, and solidifies Maryville’s role in the Jewish community. She says, “Creating strong ties between Maryville University and the Jewish community will result in important synergies that serve to strengthen both, while making the University more attractive to Jewish students.”
The community also benefits from these partnerships. Noting that the vast majority of Maryville graduates stay in the St. Louis area, Dr.Tabak says, “As university students remain in the community after graduation, the community grows.”
In addition to its ongoing sponsorship of jewishinstlouis.org, here are some of the ways Maryville has stepped up its partnerships with Jewish organizations:
In December 2010, Maryville was awarded a $10,000 grant from the Kranzberg Foundation to expand programming for Jewish students on its own campus, while reaching out to other universities with small Jewish populations to build a network of Jewish students who join together for holiday celebrations, social events and community service.
In February 2010, Maryville hosted top touring Jewish musician Rick Recht on campus, for an interfaith community concert: Tear Down the Walls. Free and open to the public, the concert brought together Jewish and non-Jewish musical performers, along with inspirational leaders from the St. Louis area who spoke about “tearing down the walls” of injustice in our community.
Maryville is a proud sponsor of “Encore! at the J,” a unique cabaret-style entertainment venue at the JCC Staenberg Family Complex.
Maryville sponsored the Jewish Book Festival in Fall 2010, and Spring 2011.
Maryville regularly sponsors a table at the Jewish Community Relations Council Jewish College and Opportunities Fair.
Maryville was an event sponsor of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis 2010 Visionaries dinner, honoring three philanthropic couples from the St. Louis Jewish Community: Michael and Carol Staenberg, Ken and Nancy Kranzberg, and Tom and Karole Green.
Maryville students, faculty and staff volunteer at The Harvey Kornblum Jewish Food Pantry as part of “Maryville Reaches Out,” a campus-wide community service day.
Jewish Campus Life
Signs of a Jewish presence on Maryville’s campus are becoming a regular part of campus culture:
- In 2010, the Jewish Student Union became an official student organization of the University, with a purpose of providing an outlet for religious involvement on campus, as well as helping educate non-Jewish students about Judaism.
- The late Irma Sue Macy, a former St. Louisan, left a $600,000 bequest to the University for the purpose of encouraging young Jewish women to attend Maryville. The “Irma Sue Macy L’Dor V’Dor Endowed Scholarship for Jewish Women,” (from generation to generation) provides a $5,000 annual renewable scholarship to one first-year female student (freshman or transfer) and a $10,000 annual renewable scholarship to one female graduate student. The first awards were made in Fall 2010.
- Havdalah has become a regular feature of Maryville’s Orientation Weekend at the beginning of each school year. The service, which is part of an overall night of spiritual enrichment throughout the campus, is led by a Rabbi from the St. Louis Jewish community, and attended by students, parents, faculty and staff.
- Chanukah menorahs are displayed on campus alongside traditional Christmas decorations—and a yearly Chanukah candle-lighting is well attended by Jewish and non-Jewish students, faculty and staff alike.
- Jewish students, faculty and staff host a display of Jewish artifacts at the annual campus “Belief Fair,” which celebrates the religious traditions of all spiritual groups on campus.
Through the generosity of the Kranzberg Foundation, Maryville will continue reaching out to other universities, and to the Jewish community at large, to strengthen the ties between Jewish students and Jewish organizations in and around St. Louis.