At 108 years old, Carl Shapiro H’03 passed away on March 7. Serving various roles at Brandeis, including benefactor, member of the Board of Trustees and recipient of an honorary degree, Shapiro contributed to the University for over 70 years. “We are grateful for and inspired by the legacy Mr. Shapiro and his family have built here at Brandeis,” President Ron Liebowitz wrote in a March 9 email to the Brandeis community. 

Throughout campus, Shapiro’s name and legacy meet the eye frequently, whether by the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Campus Center, the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Admissions Center or the Carl J. Shapiro Science Center. The construction of these buildings was made possible by the donations of Shapiro and his wife, Ruth. What initially started as a $10 donation from the two in 1950 eventually turned into a total contribution of $72 million to Brandeis, making Shapiro the University’s largest donor, according to a BrandeisNOW article.   

While Shapiro did not attend Brandeis — the University was yet to be founded when Shapiro was college-age — he was dedicated to supporting the University and the principles of inclusion it was founded on, according to BrandeisNOW. “The university's mission and founding values resonated so convincingly with Mr. Shapiro that he was compelled to champion the institution for decades,” Senior Vice President of Institutional Advancement at Brandeis Zamira Korff told BrandeisNOW. 

In 2003, the University recognized Shapiro’s “dedication to the arts, education, health care and social service,” and awarded him with an honorary degree, according to a 2008 BrandeisNOW article. The University awards honorary degrees to distinguished individuals whose accomplishments fall in line with Brandeis’ values, according to the Brandeis website

Shapiro also served on the Board of Trustees for nine years, starting in 1979, per BrandeisNow. In the article, Chair of the Board Meyer G. Koplow noted that Shapiro’s time on the Board was integral to shaping the University. In honor of Shapiro’s time on the Board, he was named trustee emeritus and honorary chair of the Campaign for Brandeis, the article explained. 

In addition to the campus hubs Shapiro funded, the article also noted that Shapiro established the “Carl Shapiro Chair in International Finance, the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Center for Library Technology and Journals, and the Zinner Forum at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management.”

Outside of the University, the Shapiros continued their philanthropy. In 1961, they founded the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family Foundation, which “supports Arts and Culture, Education, Health and Hospitals, Jewish Causes and Social Welfare programs in Greater Boston,” as mentioned on the Foundation’s website. The Foundation has contributed to cultural centers, hospitals and museums in the Boston area. According to a Forward article, Marc Baker, president and CEO of Combined Jewish Philanthropies, wrote that “the Shapiros’ philanthropy has benefitted [sic] thousands of children and families, making the arts and education more inclusive for all, helping those seeking employment and job training, and enriching Jewish life in Greater Boston and beyond.” 

Shapiro founded Kay Windsor Inc. in 1939, which was one of the largest women’s clothing companies that was bought by Vanity Fair in 1971, according to the Shapiro Foundation’s website. 

In honor of Shapiro and his legacy, the University created a Carl J. Shapiro Memorial Fund

Shapiro is succeeded by his daughters Ellen Jaffe and Linda Waintrup.