IAS Celebrates Founders Day 2023

On May 19, 2023, the IAS community of scholars, friends, and families came together to celebrate Founders Day, an annual event that honors sibling philanthropists Louis Bamberger and Caroline Bamberger Fuld, whose visionary gift secured the foundation and endowment of the Institute for Advanced Study on May 20, 1930.

Louis Bamberger Caroline Bamberger Fuld
Shelby White and Leon Levy Archives Center
IAS Founders Louis Bamberger (right) and his sister Caroline Bamberger Fuld (left)

When the New York Times announced the appointment of Albert Einstein to the newly formed Institute in 1932, it reported that the founders’ mission was to establish a “scholar’s paradise”. It was the Bambergers' intention that no account should be taken of race, religion, or sex in the appointment of Faculty or Members (then known as “workers”), a founding principle that is still upheld by the Institute today.

This year’s Founders Day festivities saw Members and Visitors from across all four IAS Schools present a series of "Big Ideas" talks, with a discussion moderated by Director and Leon Levy Professor David NirenbergSpeakers included Nana Osei-Opare from the School of Historical Studies, Agustin Moreno from the School of Mathematics, George Wong from the School of Natural Sciences, and Lila Abu-Lughod from the School of Social Science.

Attendees were invited to explore displays focused on Institute history, curated by the IAS Libraries and Archives. Over the ever-present tradition of afternoon tea, the archivists also provided scholars with the opportunity to view and sign their name in the IAS Registry, an autographed record of Faculty and Members that has been kept since the Institute's inception. Original signatories include Einstein and many other famous names, such as John von Neumann, Kurt Gödel, and Anna Stafford

The day's program of events also included IAS-themed lunchtime trivia and a game of soccer, and concluded with a community dinner party and live music and dancing in Simons Hall.

In his address to the Institute, David Nirenberg emphasized that in order to maintain and increase the Institute's distinctive capacity for discovery, "we can't simply stand still. There is no such thing as standing still. In short, the future of the Institute can be as glorious and as optimistic as its past." In order to sustain its tradition as an incubator and accelerator of ideas and scholarship, the Institute depends on strong base of supporters. To learn more about how you can support the IAS mission, click here.

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Maria O'Leary