MAX ’42 and SELMA KUPFERBERG
When Queens College opened its doors in 1937, twins Kenneth and Max Kupferberg were among the first students enrolled. Children of Romanian immigrants, the brothers majored in Physics and worked on campus taking photographs for extra money. After graduating – Kenneth in 1941 and Max six months later in 1942—they would go on to great prosperity. Neither forgot their beginnings at Queens College and the education they received here. Both went on to work on the top-secret Manhattan Project in Los Alamos, New Mexico, during World War II. This experience would lay the groundwork for KEPCO, Inc., an electronic equipment company that Max and Kenneth founded with their brothers Jack and Jesse in 1946. KEPCO, a cornerstone business in Flushing, is still is run by the Kupferberg family today. The success of the company has allowed the Kupferbergs to be major supporters of Queens College over the years. In 2005, Max and Selma donated ten million dollars —the largest single gift ever made to Queens College. The gift was transformational, allowing for major improvements to arts facilities and programs on campus. In recognition of their generosity, the Selma and Max Kupferberg Center for the Visual and Performing Arts was established. This cultural center encompasses the seven arts entities at Queens College, including the Kupferberg Center Performances (at the Colden Auditorium, Goldstein Theater and LeFrak Concert Hall), the Aaron Copland School of Music, the Drama, Theatre, and Dance Department, the Media Studies Department, the Godwin-Ternbach Museum, the Louis Armstrong House Museum, and the Queens College Art Center.
Why I Give
“Fortunately, we had a good business and were able to develop a foundation,” Max says. But the ten-million dollar gift was something that he gave personally. “A liberal arts education helped form the background for whatever I did,” he explains. “That’s one of the reasons I’ve always been active at Queens.” After working in Flushing for over six decades and noting the changes in the neighborhood, Max observes, “Queens College will continue to influence the children of new immigrants, just as it influenced me.” One big reason is that the Selma and Max Kupferberg Center for the Visual and Performing Arts will offer diverse and cultural programming to the community for many years to come.