In Remembrance: Marvin Weissberg, visionary friend and supporter
President Scott Bierman announced Weissberg’s passing to campus on May 19. “In the history of Beloit College, few friends have had a greater impact than Marvin Weissberg,” he wrote, calling the Weissberg Program “one of the premier human rights programs on any campus in the country.”
Weissberg established the program in collaboration with college leaders in 1999.
A commercial real estate developer in Arlington, Va., and founder of the Weissberg Investment Corporation, he built the successful business from his roots as the son of immigrant parents struggling through the Great Depression. Justice and democracy were among his lifelong interests. He was a founding board member of the National Democratic Institute and traveled the world as an election observer, developing personal bonds with international activists and political leaders.
Those experiences helped shape Beloit’s program, which has brought an extraordinary roster of international leaders to campus as Weissberg chairs. In preparation for the Weissberg residency, students engage in these leaders’ work, then spend an intensive week interacting with them. To date, Beloit has hosted 21 annual Weissberg chairs, including Palestinian leader, activist, and scholar Hanan Ashrawi; retired U.S. Marine Corps General and Middle East expert Anthony Zinni, and U.N. Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland.
“Marvin was a remarkable person,” says Beth Dougherty, Manger Professor of International Relations, and a key faculty member behind the program. “He possessed a warm and humane spirit, and his genuine interest in others drew people to him. Thanks to Marvin’s vision and generosity, the Weissberg Program has enriched and inspired numerous students, and they have gone on to make meaningful, positive change.”
In addition to the high-profile residency, the Weissberg Program has evolved to include scholarships, fellowships, and grants that offset costs for students pursuing human rights work. Weissberg funds are also available to faculty and staff pursuing human rights and social justice research and projects.
Nina Weissberg’84, Marvin Weissberg’s daughter and a member of the Beloit College Board of Trustees, is a founding board member of the Weissberg Foundation, which supports Beloit’s Weissberg Program. She and her sister, Wesley, are among the survivors.