Billings to become Center for Holocaust Studies

When UVM club offices move into the completed Dudley H. Davis Student Center, Billings will become the home of the Leonard and Carolyn Miller Center of Holocaust Studies, made possible by a recent generous donation by alumnus Leonard Miller and his wife Carolyn.Miller, class of ’51, announced his $5 million pledge in April, while on campus, according to Professor David Scrase, former director of the Center for Holocaust Studies.Of the $5 million, $3 million will go directly to the renovation of Billings. The other $2 million will go towards creating two new professorships for Holocaust Studies. Miller, a retired Florida real estate developer, has been a donor to the University and to the Center for Holocaust Studies in the past. He has established an endowment in his name, which provides funds for Holocaust Studies faculty and the Miller Symposium.President Fogel commented on the donation in a University communications statement, “We are so very grateful to Lenny and Carolyn Miller for this extraordinary gift. Thanks to their thoughtful and purposeful philanthropy, the University of Vermont will stand even taller among the handful of institutions worldwide known for the excellence of their teaching and scholarship surrounding one of the defining events in human history.”The Center for Holocaust Studies was established at UVM in 1992. Professor Robert Bernheim, the current interim direct of the center, explained that it was created to help continue the work of Raul Hilberg, a retired UVM professor, noted scholar of Holocaust studies and recent recipient of the Knight Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, one of Germany’s highest honors. The center, which offers a minor in Holocaust studies, also hosts cultural and academic events, such as the Raul Hilberg Lecture. The center is primarily dependent on gifts said Scrase, and will benefit from its new home in Billings. It will give the center a more solid foundation and the ability to expand beyond their “one tiny office,” Scrase said.The Center for Holocaust Studies will move from its current offices in the Old Mill Annex to the North Lounge Gallery, Scrase said.The center also possesses a small library and art collection that will be housed in Billings under the control of Special Collections, Scrase said.The new professorships “…will allow us to expand our offerings for the Holocaust Studies minor, and engage more students in our particular field,” Bernheim said. It is a strain on current professors to offer enough courses for interested students.Fogel and the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Eleanor Miller, will determine the professorships, Bernheim said.The renovations of Billings will also serve to include the Center for Research on Vermont and the UVM Library’s Special Collections, which is now located on the bottom floor of Bailey-Howe Library. The inclusion of special collections will partially return the building to its original function, a library.These changes will not be happening soon. The current freshmen class might be lucky enough to see the beginnings of this project in their senior year, Bernheim said.