Susan Weber Soros
Susan Weber Soros (born 1954, Brooklyn, New York City) is an American academic and educational director. She is the founder and director of the Bard Graduate Center (BGC) for studies in the decorative arts, design history, and material culture affiliated with Bard College.
Early life and career
Weber grew up in the New York area, the daughter of Murray Weber a manufacturer of shoe accessories and Iris Weber, a housewife. Her father had emigrated from Russia. Her mother passed on her fondness for the decorative arts. Weber grew up in a non-observant Jewish household; summing up her upbringing, Susan stated: "We were cultural Jews." She attended an Episcopalian high school in Brooklyn and graduated from Barnard College with a degree in art history. She also studied at the Parsons School of Design, and the Royal College of Art, where she earned her Ph.D. degree (1998) with a thesis on the furniture of E. W. Godwin.
In 1991, Mrs. Soros was turned down for the job of director of graduate education at the Parsons School of Design. So, with $20 million of her husband's money, she started her own school in 1993, establishing the Bard Graduate Center where she is professor of the history of the decorative arts. BGC offers graduate degrees in history of the decorative and applied arts, cultural and design history, garden history, and landscape studies. The Bard Center is one of only three places in the United States where a student can obtain an advanced degree in the decorative arts. The others are the Winterthur Museum program affiliated with the University of Delaware, and the Parsons program.
Prior to establishing the BGC, Weber was executive director of the Open Society Institute (OSI), the umbrella name for some 24 independent foundations that support the advancement of freedom of expression around the globe. OSI also supports cultural exchange through grants to individuals and associations.
In 1983, Weber married business magnate, investor, and philanthropist George Soros, twenty five years her senior, and the primary contributor to the Open Society Institute (OSI). In 2004, they separated and, in 2005, divorced. They have two children:
- Alexander (born 1985), who is a philanthropist focusing on "progressive causes that might not have widespread support." He is on the board of directors of Global Witness (which campaigns against environmental and human rights abuses associated with the exploitation of natural resources); the Open Society Foundations (which works to establish government accountability and democratic processes internationally); and Bend the Arc (which focuses on creating economic opportunity and promoting social justice).
- Gregory James Soros (born 1988), artist.
- Faculty Biography for Susan Weber Soros from Bard Graduate Center