University friend leaves $8.4 million to scholarship funds
In September of 2017, Dr. Seymour S. Bluestone left Brandeis an $8.4 million bequest in his passing. Several small donations, one visit to campus and a long-lasting relationship with Prof. Laurence Simon (Heller) had forged a deep connection between Bluestone, nicknamed “Sy,” and the University.
In 2001, Bluestone created the Jesse F. and Dora H. Bluestone Scholarship in memory of his parents, according to a Jan. 16, 2017 BrandeisNOW article. This program will provide financial support for students enrolled in the Sustainable International Development program at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management.
In an interview with the Justice, Heller Dean David Weil mentioned Bluestone’s ongoing relationship with Simon, the previous director of the SID program and current director of the Center for Global Development and Sustainability. Weil noted that despite only meeting once, Bluestone and Simon “stayed in touch for years.”
Weil further emphasized Bluestone’s commitment to this ideal, stating “Sy firmly believed ‘we all share one world,’ and that diversity helps to promote learning and enrich the lives of everyone in society.”
Bluestone carried two calling cards: one with his name and contact information and the other inscribed with the words “One World,” according to the BrandeisNOW article.
According to the SID’s website, the program’s goal is to provide students with an ideal setting to help young professionals “develop a vision and model of global development that fosters equitable economic growth, social inclusion, peace and security, and environmental stewardship.”
Another recipient of Bluestone’s bequest is the Center for Global Development and Sustainability. In a letter from the director found on the Center’s official website, Simon describes the Center as a “think tank that produces scholarship and plans practical solutions to sustain and enhance wellbeing throughout the world.”
A third program, the Myra Kraft Transitional Year Program, will also receive some money from this bequest. MKTYP is a program for undergraduate students at Brandeis that helps prepare intelligent and talented students from under-resourced high schools for a college career at Brandeis. The program will be supported partially by the Jesse F. and Dora H. Bluestone Scholarship.
“Sy understood that we all succeed when more students have the opportunity to fulfill their potential,” MKTYP Director Kathryn Bethea said in the BrandeisNOW article. The article also quoted University President Ron Liebowitz as saying, “Sy Bluestone’s bequest will help Brandeis continue to attract talented students of all backgrounds and perspectives.”
In the interview with the Justice, Weil explained that the gift will provide financial aid for a total of four to five students enrolled in the SID program. Weil noted that the Heller administration hopes to begin the process of determining who receives these new scholarship funds in the near future.
Weil emphasized that Bluestone’s gift supports Heller’s dedication to “providing impactful education to students who seek to improve social conditions, regardless of their financial capability.” He added that “gifts like Sy’s — which allow us to provide full scholarships to students who need them — allow us to fulfill that mission.”
A man not unfamiliar with philanthropy, Bluestone also dedicated his life to serving others. During the Korean War, Bluestone served as a medical officer in the U.S. Army from 1945 to 1947, eventually reaching the rank of captain, according to the BrandeisNOW article. A graduate of both Cornell University and the New York University School of Medicine, Bluestone took advantage of his education and later held several medical positions, most notably serving as director of the New York State Rehabilitation Hospital for 10 years.
Even after his passing, Bluestone’s desire to share one world continues to live on through his generosity. The BrandeisNOW article quoted Zamira Korff, senior vice president of Institutional Advancement, as saying, “I am immensely grateful that Sy chose Brandeis — an institution committed to creating a fair and just society — to address the issues that were so important to him.”
A previous version of this article stated that the Jesse F. and Dora H. Bluestone Scholarship, established in 2001, has provided support to students. However, Bluestone gave instructions that it not be spent until his passing, thus the fund has yet to be distributed, but will be in the near future.