We Were Heard

University of Minnesota Confirms Hiring Process for Next Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies Director to Start Fresh, most likely not until 2025-2026 academic year

June 14, 2024 – MINNEAPOLIS, MN – Steve Hunegs, Executive Director, and Ethan Roberts, Deputy Executive Director, of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (JCRC), released the following statement: 

JCRC welcomes today’s announcement by Interim President Jeff Ettinger that the search for the next Director for the University of Minnesota’s Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies will start fresh and that there are currently no outstanding offers for the directorship.

Additionally, JCRC appreciates Interim President Ettinger’s acknowledgment that because ‘there are many Minnesota communities and stakeholders who care deeply about the work of the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies and want to see it succeed… we look forward to engaging them in the search for the next director.’ As the consensus public affairs voice for Minnesota’s Jewish community, charged with the responsibility for commemorating and educating about the Holocaust, JCRC expects to be part of that selection process.

Notably, when the last Center Director, Dr. Alejandro Baer, was hired in 2012, Steve Hunegs was a member of the search committee. By contrast, we were not even made aware that a search was occurring to fill the Director position which Dr. Baer vacated in 2021. Clearly, the University now recognizes this was a mistake which led to the initial offering of the Director position to Professor Raz Segal without community engagement.

In his remarks before the Board of Regents, Interim President Ettinger indicated he expects the search for the new director will not occur until the 2025-2026 academic year. In the meantime, the Center’s Interim Director, Joe Eggers, agreed to continue in his current role. These are wise decisions and JCRC looks forward to our ongoing partnership with the Center under Eggers’ leadership.

Since we engaged the community less than a week ago, members of the Jewish community and our allies responded by the hundreds with thoughtful, passionate, and respectful emails and phone calls. In conversations with University of Minnesota leadership we know we were heard.

Today’s announcement would not have been possible without the powerful grassroots engagement of a broad cross section of our community. It remains an incredible privilege and honor to be the consensus public affairs voice for our remarkably resilient community.


Updated June 11, 2024 to include this comment from Professor Alejandro Baer, former Director of the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies:

“During my tenure as Director of the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies it was very important for me to uphold the centers strong tradition of public engagement, affirming the legacy of the center’s founding Director Stephen Feinstein. The input of the extended Center community, including Holocaust survivors and their children, is integral to the Center’s mission. I trust that the University of Minnesota will work collaboratively with all the members of the Center’s extended family to find an inspiring scholar capable of providing knowledge and appropriate unifying leadership for these very difficult times.”

June 10, 2024 – MINNEAPOLIS, MN – Steve Hunegs, Executive Director, and Ethan Roberts, Deputy Executive Director, of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (JCRC), released the following statement: 

Today, after an outpouring of protest from our community, Interim President Jeff Ettinger announced that his office paused the selection process for the next Director of the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies. 

Interim President Ettinger wrote: 

“In the past several days, additional members of the University community have come forward to express their interest in providing perspective on the hiring of the posit[i]on of Director of the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies. Because of the community-facing and leadership role the Director holds, [i]t is important that these voices are heard. Our focus is on the mission of the Center. Accordingly, the Interim President has paused the Director selection process to allow an opportunity to determine next steps.”   

We support this decision and thank Interim President Jeff Ettinger for his leadership. However, until a qualified, unifying candidate is named, JCRC calls upon members of the community to continue voicing their opposition to the appointment of Professor Raz Segal to be the next Director of the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies.   

As the University determines its next steps, we expect that the consensus perspective of Minnesota’s Jewish community, as well as that of mainstream Holocaust and genocide scholars, will be honored.   

The work of the Center, which has been a close ally of the JCRC and our Jewish community for decades in preserving the memory of the victims of the Holocaust and honoring its survivors and their families, is too important to be led by an extremist. The next Center Director must be a unifying and not divisive figure.  

As outlined in the comprehensive reporting of TC Jewfolk, Professor Segal outrageously accused Israel of genocide on October 13, just days after Hamas’ terror attack on October 7 which killed 1200 people, most of them civilians. He has repeatedly espoused many of the key slurs against-Israel, including that Israel is a ‘settler-colonial project,’ and a perpetrator of ‘racism’ and ‘white supremacy.’ The professor has even claimed there is ‘no evidence’ linking Jews today to our ancient ancestors, while calling ‘absurd’ the well-documented antisemitism present in recent campus protests.   

Each of these statements are by themselves disqualifying from such a critical community-facing leadership role.   

After learning the news that an offer was pending to Professor Segal, dozens of community members immediately contacted the University in thoughtful protest to the appointment of such a polarizing candidate. It was heartbreaking to read many of these comments, including from the descendants of Holocaust survivors as well as that of a community member who survived the October 7 atrocities.   

There is much work to be done by the University to repair the damage done and rebuild the trust which has been lost not just during this process, but over the past eight months as the University has become a locus of antisemitism.  

We again implore the University to honor the consensus perspective of our Jewish community by earnestly engaging with representative voices such as the JCRC, Hillel, Chabad, and mainstream Jewish faculty, before making critical decisions concerning Jews, Israel, the Holocaust, and antisemitism.   

We look forward to working with incoming president Dr. Rebecca Cunningham in ensuring that the University returns to being an institution which honors its Jewish students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the broader Minnesota Jewish community.  

On a recent Minnesota solidarity mission to Israel, participants were captivated by a banner which proclaimed that ‘our wounds are centuries old, but so are our resilience and our strength.’ This is no less true of our community here in Minnesota. The JCRC is honored to help lead such a strong community, which continues to be fierce advocates for our right to stand proudly in our Jewish identity.   

Am Yisrael Chai, the people of Israel live.  


As the consensus public affairs voice of the Jewish community, JCRC builds relationships to fight antisemitism and bigotry; educates about Judaism, Israel, antisemitism, and the Holocaust; advocates for Jewish values and priorities; and safeguards our community.