Transition on the Board of Overseers

The Katz Center is pleased to announce that Ivan Ross (W ‘83) will become chairman of our Board of Overseers starting July 1, 2017. Ivan takes the helm after serving the Katz Center as an active member of the board for nearly a decade. For him and his wife Nina, supporting the Katz Center reflects a philanthropic commitment to learning as a central pillar of cultural strength and individual development in Jewish culture and beyond. “Ivan has been extraordinarily supportive and engaged throughout my time as director,” says Steven Weitzman, “bringing energy, a genuine sense of curiosity, savvy advice, and enthusiasm about the Center's future. We are extremely fortunate that we will be benefitting from his leadership.”

In his decades-long career, Ivan has worked at Skadden Arps, Goldman Sachs, and Mason Capital. Ivan and a partner recently started a boutique investment banking firm, Ardea Partners. The Rosses are the proud parents of three sons, Ethan (C’ 15); and Tyler (W’ 14) and Josh (C’19), and they are devoted philanthropists. In addition to their commitment to Jewish learning, they invest in education for disadvantaged children. Nina is a longstanding board member of Westchester Jewish Community Services, where she also has driven the successful growth of an after-school tutoring program in Mount Vernon, New York. Nina is also a generous donor to UJA where she has been a member of a nedivot group focused on Jewish continuity. Ivan is also a member of the Board of Overseers at the Jacobson Leadership Program in Law and Business at NYU School of Law.

The outgoing chairman, Thomas O. Katz (W '79), will remain a member of the Board of Overseers. Tom is the son of the late Herbert D. Katz (W ‘51), for whom the Center is named and who was a crucial partner in developing the Center as an institution. Between them, father and son shepherded the board as chairmen for eleven of the Center’s twenty-four years. We extend our deepest appreciation for the continued support of Tom, his wife Elissa, and the entire Katz family, without which the Center would not exist as an unparalleled world center of Judaic scholarship—able to attract and support, foster, and share the very finest scholarship from around the globe. We are deeply grateful for their dedication, warmth, and intellectual energy, and we know they will remain involved for years to come.

On the occasion of an affair in honor of Tom Katz’s service as chairman, President Amy Gutmann sent a letter of appreciation:

April 23, 2017

Dear Tom,

While I regret I cannot be with you for tonight’s festivities, I send my greetings and extend my sincere thanks to you, Tom, on this very special occasion.

What’s in a name? For the Katz family, there is certainly much to praise: a love of the Jewish people, a commitment to the preservation of their history, and an unwavering devotion to our University. The strong foundation established by Tom’s father, Herb Katz, paved the way for Tom to follow in his footsteps as a passionate advocate of Jewish studies.

Tom’s connection to the Center dates back to when it was simply known as Penn’s Center for Judaic Studies. His tireless fundraising efforts and deep admiration for his father culminated in the Center’s rebirth as the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies. With the Katz name now etched into our University’s history, Tom continues to selflessly give back.

Tom joined the Center’s Board of Overseers in 2000, and became chair five years ago. His efforts have been vital to propelling this cultural and academic hub to incredible heights. The Center hosts 20 fellows from across the globe annually to conduct post-doctoral research on an array of topics. Tom’s genuine interest in their work is reflected in the personal relationships he has forged with this new generation of experts, his capacious curiosity about their research, and the mentorship he has offered.

His tenure has secured a bright future for Jewish studies, not just at Penn, but on an international level. The Katz Center is among the world’s most preeminent research institutions in Judaic studies. To have such a renowned institute associated with the University of Pennsylvania is truly an honor.

Although we will miss Tom’s leadership, I know that he will not be a stranger. His influence will continue to reverberate at the Katz Center for generations to come. He leaves the Board, and the Center on an upward trajectory, poised to carry out his father’s vision. To you, Tom, I say “toda raba” for everything you have done for our University. We could not be more grateful or more proud.

Warm regards,

Amy Gutmann

Katz CAJS Blog