Florida Atlantic University today announced a $7 million gift from longtime benefactors Phyllis and Harvey Sandler to name The Phyllis and Harvey Sandler School of Social Work within the College for Design and Social Inquiry.
“I am extremely passionate about improving the well-being of all, especially the lives of the students and faculty at Florida Atlantic University,” said Phyllis Sandler.
The gift also will establish two new Centers within The Phyllis and Harvey Sandler School of Social Work – the Robin Rubin Mindfulness and Wellness Center and the Substance Misuse, Mental Health and Research Center. A portion of the gift will go toward renovations to the College for Design and Social Inquiry.
“We are extremely grateful to Phyllis and Harvey Sandler for this transformational gift,” said FAU President John Kelly. “The Sandlers understand that social work plays a major role in America’s mental health and social services. Their generosity will help grow our program in remarkable ways and support some of the best and brightest students in the field.”
FAU began its relationship with the Sandler family more than 10 years ago when Phyllis and Harvey’s daughters, Robin Rubin and Amy Ross, decided to go back to school to earn their degrees in social work. Both graduated with honors, and Rubin went on to earn her master’s degree, teach part-time at FAU’s School of Social Work, as well as assemble the School’s first Social Work Community Advisory Board.
“This gift will give for generations to come,” said Wesley Hawkins, Ph.D., dean of the College for Design and Social Inquiry. “Because of the enormous generosity of Phyllis and Harvey Sandler, social work students and faculty can now more fully address the social issues that have plagued our society for centuries – substance misuse, child abuse, health care, suicide, depression – the list goes on and on. The impact and ripple effect of this gift is enormous for helping those in need in our communities for years to come. I am thrilled and very grateful to now call our school: the Phyllis and Harvey Sandler School of Social Work.”
For the past five years, the FAU School of Social Work’s Community Advisory Board, populated by some of Boca Raton’s most prominent community leaders, has highlighted the importance of the social work program at FAU and its impact on the local community. Because of this, FAU’s Phyllis Sandler Heart of Social Work annual fundraiser was created for the social work program and its students.
“It feels so good to give back,” said Harvey Sandler. “It’s important to make investments in your community and take pride in where you live.”
Phyllis and Harvey Sandler have a long history of philanthropic efforts in the community. Together they have named the Phyllis and Harvey Sandler Pavilion at the Lynn Cancer Center and The Phyllis Sandler Center for Living Well at the Boca Raton Regional Hospital. They also named and endowed The Phyllis and Harvey Sandler Center for Jewish Life Enhancement at the Adolph & Rose Levis Jewish Community Center. The Sandlers are also one of the largest contributors to the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County and created the organization’s Sandler Family Major Gifts annual event.
“Naming the Phyllis and Harvey Sandler School of Social Work reflects the incredible generosity of the Sandler family and their commitment to making an impact in the lives of thousands of people,” said Naelys Luna, Ph.D., director of FAU’s School of Social Work. “This is an unprecedented gift that will allow us to develop and fund programs, scholarships and research placing our school as a national leader in social work. This gift will also provide the foundation for continuous academic excellence and remarkable growth preparing some of the most dedicated and committed social work students.”
Because of the Sandler family’s close relationship with Barbara and Dick Schmidt, an additional gift of $250,000 will be given to name the Phyllis and Harvey Sandler Student Athlete Lounge within the Schmidt Family Complex for Academic and Athletic Excellence. The Complex will play a central role in elevating FAU’s academic standing and will benefit students in all academic programs, including those not associated with athletic programs.