Susan Weber (born 1954) is an American historian. 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 in Dutchess County, New York. She was previously married to George Soros.
Early life and education
Susan Weber was born in Brooklyn, New York City, the daughter of Murray Weber, a manufacturer of shoe accessories, and Iris Weber, a housewife. Her father was born in New York City; his parents emigrated from Lithuania. Her mother passed on her fondness for the decorative arts. She grew up in the New York City area 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 of Columbia University with a degree in art history. In 1990, she earned a master's degree from Cooper-Hewitt/Parsons.
She also studied at the Royal College of Art in London, where she earned her Ph.D. degree (1998) with a thesis on the furniture of E. W. Godwin.
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 1991, 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 four 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, the Parsons program., and the George Washington University in partnership with the Smithsonian.
In 1983, Weber married billionaire George Soros, twenty five years her senior, and the primary contributor to the Open Society Institute (OSI). They had two children, Alexander (born 1985) and Gregory (born 1988). They divorced in 2005.