Lee Bycel Joins Swig Program in Jewish Studies and Social Justice at USF

SAN FRANCISCO (July 2, 2013)

The University of San Francisco (USF) announced today the appointment of Lee Bycel as adjunct professor for the university's Swig Program in Jewish Studies and Social Justice. Bycel will begin his position in August, teaching in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies and the Saint Ignatius Institute honors program. Founded in August 2008, USF's Swig Program is the only program worldwide that formally links Jewish studies and social justice.

Bycel will teach two courses, "Holocaust and Genocide" and "Contemporary Political Prophets: Martin Luther King Jr., Abraham Joshua Heschel, and Aung San Suu Kyi." Bycel's Holocaust and Genocide course immediately filled to maximum capacity when it was announced. This is the one of the only courses on the Holocaust in the United States in which students study the genocide of World War II alongside other twentieth- and twenty-first-century genocides. The course will examine these atrocities and expose common patterns among them in an effort to end these heinous acts altogether.

"We are delighted to welcome Lee Bycel to the University of San Francisco," said USF President Father Stephen Privett, S.J. "I was just in Cambodia with a group of USF students and saw first hand the lasting after-effects of the Khmer Rouge on the national psyche. I am doubly appreciative that Lee Bycel's knowledge, experience, and passion for justice will be shared with our students."

"Over the course of his career, Lee has distinguished himself as a social activist who has worked tirelessly on a number of key social justice issues, such as ending genocide," said Aaron J. Hahn Tapper, associate professor, chair, and founder of the Swig Program at USF. "A gifted teacher and scholar, what strikes me most about Lee is his humility. As a guest lecturer in our on-campus course 'Social Justice, Activism, and Jews,' Lee often starts out by owning his role in failing to act when he learned about the genocides of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Rwanda in the 1990's. He acknowledges this remorse in a way that both reflects personal responsibility and empowers students to do more. He is an ideal fit for the Swig Program at USF."

Bycel currently serves as rabbi of Congregation Beth Shalom in Napa, moderates seminars at The Aspen Institute, and is involved in a number of other humanitarian activities. Starting in 2004, Bycel, who has both rabbinic ordination from Hebrew Union College (HUC) as well as a Doctor of Ministry degree from Claremont School of Theology, began making regular humanitarian trips to Chad, Darfur, and South Sudan. He has also spoken and written extensively on the plight of the Darfuri and South Sudanese people.

"I am greatly honored to be teaching at USF," said Bycel. "It is an outstanding institution of higher learning that also takes most seriously the mandate to nurture and educate students who will be socially responsible citizens. Our world is in urgent need of college graduates who can connect their professional endeavors with their commitment to making this a more just and humane world."

Bycel served as dean of HUC in Los Angeles for fifteen years and helped develop their undergraduate Jewish Studies program, which features a course on the Holocaust offered each semester through their partner school, the University of Southern California. This course remains one of the largest courses on this topic in the country. In recognition of his outstanding work while at HUC and USC, he was one of a select few Americans that the German government invited to Germany in 1988 to see how the Holocaust was being taught in their public schools. In 2006, President Kagame invited Bycel to Kigali for the commemoration of the Rwandan genocide.

For more information about the Swig Program in Jewish Studies and Social Justice, including a list of public events, please visit usfca.edu/artsci/jssj/.

To request interviews with professors Lee Bycel or Aaron J. Hahn Tapper, please contact Anne-Marie Devine at (415) 422-2697 or abdevine@usfca.edu.

About the University of San Francisco

The University of San Francisco is located in the heart of one of the world's most innovative and diverse cities and is home to a vibrant academic community of students and faculty who achieve excellence in their fields. Its diverse student body enjoys direct access to faculty, small classes, and outstanding opportunities in the city itself. USF is San Francisco's first university, and its Jesuit Catholic mission helps ignite a student's passion for social justice and a desire to "Change the World from Here." For more information, please visit www.usfca.edu.