AMHERST — Robert S. Feldman says he and his wife would have preferred to remain anonymous, but the advantages of letting people know about their gift outweighed the quality of humility.
“We were ambivalent about making our names public, but we were encouraged to let other people know this happened. It might serve as an example that would cause others to donate, too,” Feldman said after he and his wife, Katherine E. Vorwerk, committed $1.225 million to the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
The gift will fund a new professorship in psychological and brain sciences, the study of which is more relevant than ever, Feldman said.
“It involves the scientific study of behavior and mental processes. With the COVID-19 pandemic, people experienced higher levels of stress, anxiety, depression and even suicidal tendencies,” said Feldman, a senior advisor to UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy.
He is also the former deputy chancellor of the university and dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Vorwerk is a retired instructor in the department of psychological and brain sciences.
“This is a very diverse field. How do we explain our tendencies, and how do we handle and treat them? At its core, we are looking at who we are and for ways we can be better,” Feldman said.
The professorship will be awarded to an outstanding faculty member who specializes in social psychology, fostering cutting-edge research