Million-Dollar Life Insurance Gift Endows Howard Lasnik Chair in Linguistics

 Photo of Roberta and Howard Lasnik
Howard and Roberta Lasnik at a Scottish dance

Distinguished University Professor Howard Lasnik is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading theoretical linguists. To help attract and recognize esteemed faculty scholars who will follow in his footsteps, Lasnik and his wife Roberta have committed a generous $1 million gift of life insurance to establish the Howard Lasnik Chair in Linguistics after their lifetimes.

They received a tax deduction for the policy’s value at the time of the gift, and their annual policy premium payments are also tax deductible—making life insurance a very effective way to fund a transformational gift to UMD that can far exceed what would otherwise be possible.

“Standing on the shoulders of giants” is a phrase that aptly applies to Professor Lasnik, who has built on the intellectual accomplishments of Noam Chomsky (known as the “father of modern linguistics”). The beneficiaries of such an esteemed legacy are the linguistics students at Maryland who will carry that knowledge far into the future.

As Howard proudly says, “The University of Maryland is one of the very top places in the world to study language from the Chomskyan perspective.”

Howard’s academic pursuits began at the Carnegie Institute of Technology (B.S., 1967), now Carnegie Mellon University, where he studied mathematics and English literature. He then attended Harvard for graduate school (M.A., 1969) and MIT (Ph.D., 1972), where he studied under Chomsky. Since then, Howard’s list of credentials in the linguistics field has grown exponentially. He is one of the few linguists to have co-written articles with Chomsky. His book publications include Minimalist Analysis (Blackwell); Syntactic Structures Revisited: Contemporary Lectures on Classic Transformational Theory (with Marcela Depiante and Arthur Stepanov, MIT Press); and A Course in Minimalist Syntax: Foundations and Prospects (with Juan Uriagereka, Blackwell).

The generous gift from the Lasniks will help ensure that the Maryland Linguistics Department maintains its stature. As Howard demonstrates, giving to Maryland means supporting the expectations and the fulfillment of excellence.



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