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Challenge gift to launch new program in Holocaust and Genocide Education

Trustee Emeritus Bill Cummings, A58, H06, M97P, J97P, and Joyce Cummings, M97P, J97P, moved by Eliezer Ayalon's stories of his experiences during and after the Holocaust, were inspired to think broadly about how education could help prevent such a horrific tragedy from ever happening again. The couple has now committed to a gift of $1 million to endow a new program in Holocaust and Genocide Education at Tufts Hillel, provided the same amount can be raised from other friends.

The couple met Ayalon on their first trip to Israel last fall. A native of Poland, Ayalon was imprisoned in five different camps before being liberated, near death in May 1945. "Our Tufts Travel-Learn trip to Israel gave us a new understanding of history, and how injustice corrodes the most cherished values of society," says Bill, a self-made entrepreneurial success story in real estate development and construction. "We wanted to channel our experience into something positive, and Tufts Hillel was certainly a very natural choice for educating others. Tufts students share a profound curiosity and concern about the world, and many are already on their way to being catalysts for social change."

It is not the first time the Cummings have enriched Tufts with their philanthropy. Bill and Joyce endowed the Cummings Family Chair in Entrepreneurship and Business Economics in 1998. In 2005, their generous support led to the dedication of the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. Bill has also been a valued contributor to his alma mater through service as an overseer to Tufts Medical School, and as a trustee of the University.

"We believe in giving back," says Bill, co-founder with Joyce of Cummings Foundation, which has grown to become one of the largest charitable foundations in New England. "Fifty-six years ago, I was fortunate Tufts recognized that I had more potential than my high school grades suggested, and Admissions Director Grant Curtis let me talk my way in."

"Not only did Tufts then provide me with so many good tools to help start a real career, but I certainly graduated with a much wider sense of the world, and the idea, even then, that we should see ourselves as citizens of that world. I hope our philanthropy helps foster an attitude in students that they can shape the future - that while we face enormous problems in our world today, they are part of the solution, they can and should be active citizens."

This new initiative will create a vibrant program intended to equip students with the knowledge and skills to aide in the cause of preventing future acts of genocide.

"We are tremendously grateful to the Cummings family for supporting Tufts' mission of active citizenship and Tufts Hillel's commitment to tikkun olam, repairing the world," says Rabbi Summit. "We welcome assistance in launching this important endeavor. Whether as a patron or a participant - we encourage involvement in establishing a program that will make an impact at Tufts for generations to come."

For more information, contact Judith Canter, Director, Hillel Development, at judith.canter@tufts.edu, 617-627-2863; or Jo Wellins, Deputy Director of Development for university advancement at jo.wellins@tufts.edu or 617-627-5906.