Alan B. Slifka, a philanthropist whose foundation made a gift to the University to expand the Master of Arts in the Coexistence and Conflict program, passed away from cancer at the age of 81 last Friday, according to a BrandeisNOW press release published yesterday. "Alan was a kind, caring human being who truly believed it is possible to make our world a better place, and went about all his life trying to do just that," University President Emeritus Jehuda Reinharz said in the press release.

The press release states that the University received a $4.25-million gift from the Alan B. Slifka Foundation last year that "established the Alan B. Slifka Chair in Coexistence and Conflict, moved the program to the Heller School for Social Policy and Management and provided additional faculty and program enhancements."

A Sept. 22, 2010 BrandeisNOW press release states that the Slifka Foundation is a "private grant-making institution" that assists in promoting "strategies to encourage political and civil society leadership, public policy, and institutional and structural change to create, nurture and sustain shared societies, in which cultural, religious, ethnic and other forms of diversity are embraced."

Slifka also created the Sylvia and Joseph Slifka Israeli Coexistence Scholarship at Brandeis, which is usually awarded every year to two Israeli citizens-one Arab and one Jewish, according to the press release. The University's Scholarship and Financial Aid website states that, "The scholarship is open to Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs, who are committed to, and will work to foster, greater tolerance and understanding between Arab and Jewish Israelis." The press release states that Slifka founded and served as co-chair of Halcyon Asset Management, which is described as a "leading global asset management firm" on its website. He also co-founded the Abraham Fund Initiative, "the first not-for-profit organization created to further coexistence between Israel's Jewish and Arab citizens" and was the founding chair of the Big Apple Circus, a touring nonprofit performing arts circus, according to the press release. A memorial service will be held for Slifka at B'nai Jeshurun synagogue in New York on April 10 and the funeral service will be private, according to the press release.