Professor Emeritus Mordecai Lee Makes Endowment to Support the Library and Inspire Other Donors

Mordecai Lee photoMordecai Lee, UWM professor emeritus, has made a generous donation to the UWM Libraries to create a named fund to acquire books on the subjects of US history, American government, public administration, and Jewish studies. Lee made the gift not only to extend the Libraries’ collection funds, but also to inspire others to consider the Libraries in their financial plans. As he explains:


“As I was finishing a book that was published last year, I decided to dedicate it to UWM and the Library: ‘In grateful appreciation for two decades at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee and its terrific Golda Meir Library. A professor could not want for more.’ But, after putting the book to bed, I felt that this public acknowledgement wasn’t enough. I wanted to do something concrete to demonstrate what the library meant to me. I was happy to learn that the library offered donors the opportunity to establish funds around their areas of interest. For those of us in the middle class, we tend to think of endowment donations as limited to 7-figure minimums. In this case, the library had an option for a named endowment that was much more within reach of people like me, beginning at $50,000. I was so happy to sign up. I was especially pleased that I could tailor the goal of the fund to the subjects that have been important to me all my life. Here was an opportunity to make a lasting contribution to the library’s long-term vitality for decades to come.”


“We are deeply appreciative of Mordecai’s gift,” says Michael Doylen, assistant vice provost and director of the Libraries. “We hope that his example may help stimulate other library supporters to consider similar actions. Both UWM and the Libraries have had to face changing financial circumstances, including reductions to operating budgets. Endowed funds go a long way to assuring that the library’s collection will continue to meet the needs of generations of future students and faculty.”


Mordecai joined UWM’s faculty in 1997 as an assistant professor of governmental affairs in the School of Continuing Education and retired in 2018 as professor of urban planning in the School of Architecture and Urban Planning. In 2002, he received the Libraries’ Fromkin Grant and Lecture award.


While at UWM, Mordecai authored eleven books and over 70 articles in scholarly journals with extensive assistance from the Libraries. For example, in the Preface to a 2018 book, he wrote, “The interlibrary loan staff at my home institution’s Golda Meir Library performed what looked like miracles to me, fulfilling almost all my requests, including for some obscure and unusual catalog items, sometimes held by only one library in the world. Through persistence and persuasion, they were able to obtain nearly every item I requested. My thanks to them, especially Beth Kucera. Also, my thanks to the library’s Research Services unit for helping locate two very obscure newspaper items.”


A Milwaukee native, Mordecai attended UWM as a freshman in 1966-67 before transferring to Madison. He remembers the library’s entire collection fitting in Mellencamp Hall. After graduate work, he returned home and ran for office. In 1976, he was elected to the first of three terms in the Wisconsin State Assembly and in 1982 to two terms in the State Senate. After leaving politics, in 1990, he became executive director of Milwaukee’s Jewish Community Relations Council, a nonprofit advocacy organization promoting social justice and equal rights.


For information on how you can support the Libraries, please contact Shavonn Montgomery Brown, UWM Libraries development director, at or 414-251-8214.