Research That Resonates
David E. Schulman, C’82, L’85, and Suzanne E. Turner, C’82, parents, support the new Center for the Study of Ethnicity, Race, and Immigration
By Lauren Rebecca Thacker
By Lauren Rebecca Thacker
David E. Schulman and Suzanne E. Turner have many things in common— they’re College grads who went on to study law and practice out of the same Washington, D.C., firm. A difference between them, however, led them to find even more common ground and motivated their latest gift to Penn Arts and Sciences.
“Suzie and I are politically different,” says Schulman, C’82, L’85. “We used to joke that our votes cancelled each other out.” Despite their political differences, they share dismay at what they call growing tribalism in the U.S., and both recognize the need for evidence-based understandings of immigration. When they learned about the Center for the Study of Ethnicity, Race, and Immigration (CSERI), led by Michael Jones-Correa, President’s Distinguished Professor of Political Science, their mutual interest was piqued.
“David is first generation—his mother was born in France—and I’m a civil liberties lawyer,” explains Turner, C’82. “The Center’s mission really resonates with us. We need interdisciplinary, nuanced understandings of the impacts of immigration—politics aside.”
CSERI, based in Penn Arts and Sciences, is unique within the University and the larger academic landscape. That’s what makes it so vital.
“We’ve tended to think of race as separate from immigration, and immigration separate from race,” says Jones-Correa. “But the argument for the Center is that these have always been linked and we gain insight by weaving these threads back together. CSERI serves as a bridge across the social sciences and the various schools at Penn—not only the School of Arts and Sciences, but Design, Law, Wharton, and others, in addition to people studying this broad set of issues around the world.”
CSERI is a hub for inquiry and education, supporting undergraduate, graduate, and faculty research and hosting postdoctoral fellows and interdisciplinary colloquia and workshops. Through this work, the Center will attract top researchers, build a pipeline for underrepresented minorities in the field, and position Penn as a national leader in scholarship on race and immigration.
The Turner Schulman Endowed Research Fund supports undergraduate and graduate research at CSERI, creating opportunities for students to be involved in the scholarly work of the Center. These opportunities, Jones-Correa explains, are key to the Center’s growth.
“The vision for the Center is that it will bring together a community, and students are a major part of that,” he says. “The work that undergraduate and graduate students do informs the work that faculty do—it’s part of a continuum. Some student researchers will go on to become faculty members, but others will go on to related fields such as law or public policy. I think of the Center as a kind of incubator of talent in this area.”
As College alumni and parents—their daughter, Kyra, graduated in 2018—Schulman and Turner were happy to create an opportunity for students to pursue research. In Turner’s case, the Penn connection goes back further than her own time at the College: Her grandmother, Pauline M. Goldenberg, graduated with a degree in education in 1932, and many family members since have counted themselves as Penn alumni. Turner and Schulman agree that part of what makes Penn powerful for students is that it does not stay the same.
Thinking about Kyra’s experience at the College, Turner says, “David and I were both really impressed with the emphasis put on interdisciplinary studies. I don’t really recall that kind of emphasis and melding of disciplines when we were there.”
Schulman adds, “Penn is not a university that is resting on its laurels. You’ve got to be looking toward the future and leading the way, which is what Michael is doing with the Center. As CSERI grows, his research will attract other academic leaders and advance how we think about society, how we unite and divide and live together.”
The family has contributed to Penn in various ways over the years—the Turner Schulman Scholarship supports students in the College who have demonstrated a strong interest in public service, and the Turner Schulman Internship provides financial support for College students interning with human rights organizations. The gift to CSERI is a new way for them to support what matters to them.
“Suzie and I are grateful to Penn for a number of reasons,” Schulman says. “It’s where we met and it’s been an important part of her family. We’re committed and are always going to find new ways to contribute.”