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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Univ. settles Kalman suit

Published: August 28, 2009
Section: News

<i>PHOTO BY Max Shay/The Hoot</i>

PHOTO BY Max Shay/The Hoot

Brandeis University officials have reached a settlement with Sumner Kalman, who sued the university last May because it intended to demolish the 53-year-old science building named after his great uncle, Julius Kalman.

Sumner Kalman’s suit was dismissed in Suffolk County Probate Court on Wednesday after an agreement was reached between the two parties. Brandeis will name a research laboratory in the new Carl Shapiro Science Center after Julius Kalman.

The university also agreed to install a plaque in tribute to Julius Kalman on the ground floor of the new science center.

In addition to the plaque, another sign will note the old science center, and read “Two generations of Brandeis scientists were trained inside its walls for the betterment of humankind … Brandeis University is deeply grateful to Julius Kalman, who had faith in the university in its earliest years.”

When Julius Kalman died in 1956, only six years after the university’s founding, he donated all of his residuary estate – a total of $1.8 million, now worth $14 million – to the university “for the purpose of erecting a building, buildings or a portion of the building, to be known as the Julius Kalman Memorial,” his nephew Sumner Kalman said.

University spokesman Dennis Nealon called the agreement “amicable” in a written statement. “The University has made it a priority to update and replace older facilities in an effort to provide students and faculty with an exceptional educational experience and learning environment,” Nealon said in the statement. “Julius Kalman’s magnificent generosity to the University will be appropriately honored by the placement of plaques in the new science building on the Brandeis campus.”

When Sumner Kalman learned of the university’s plan to raze his uncle’s namesake, he decided to file for an injunction, saying the university was required to always have a portion of a building named after his uncle Julius because they had accepted his donation 56 years ago.

Sumner Kalman, a resident of Plaistow, N.H., said while he wishes the dispute could have been settled out of court, he is happy with the result of the settlement.

“I was hoping that we could get folks together and broker an honest deal in everyone’s best interest without litigation, but we had exhausted all other options of getting the university to listen,” he said. “But I believe this was resolved within the perimeter of the intent of my great uncle’s will so I’m glad we were able to work out a deal.”