Marta Kauffman Pledges $4M Endowment for African and African American Studies at Alma Mater

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Friends co-creator Marta Kauffman has pledged $4 million to endow a professorship in African and African American Studies at Brandeis University, her alma mater.

The gift, she says, comes after a period of self-reflection and a series of interviews in which she expressed regret about the lack of diversity on the hit NBC sitcom. Kauffman was said to be deeply affected by George Floyd’s murder and the nationwide protests that sparked by it. These protests, which sparked countless calls for inclusion in many industries, prompted conversations about systemic racism.

“It took a long time for me to understand how systemic racism was internalized,” Kauffman stated in a Brandeis statement. “I have been working hard to become an ally and an anti-racist. And this seemed to me to be a way that I could participate in the conversation from a white woman’s perspective.”

Known as the Marta F. Kauffman ’78 Professorship of African and African American Studies. The endowment will fund a distinguished scholar whose focus is in the study African peoples and cultures. It will also help the AAAS department recruit specialists, map long-term priorities, and provide new opportunities to students.

Brandeis president Ron Liebowitz described the gift as “a transformative moment in the university’s history”. “This professorship is so meaningful to both our African and African American Studies department and to the university,” he said of the department that celebrated a 50th anniversary in 2019. “It is the first professorship in the program that has been endowed. This will ensure that Brandeis students continue to study African and African American history and politics, something that is more important than ever .”


Kauffman was a 1978 graduate of Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. This private research university is located west Boston in Waltham. While they were both students, she met her writing partner and Friends creator David Crane. In 2020, she received an honorary doctorate from the university, and in May, she delivered a joint commencement address to the classes of 2020/2021.

THR requested additional comments from Kauffman regarding the endowment. We will update the story if this becomes available.

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