Some families hand down heirlooms from generation to generation. But the most prized possession of the extended Glazer family is not a set of fine china or a vintage wedding dress or any physical object. Rather, it is the value of a strong family and an equally strong education. And for the Glazers, Washington University has often been the place where those two essentials meet. Over the past 70 years, 16 members of the sprawling Glazer family tree — which encompasses the Chazen, Glazer, Goldstein, Kaplan and Shapiro branches — have graduated from, currently attend or are about to matriculate at WashU.
The Glazer family’s longstanding relationship with the university is remarkable, and it is a development that Melvin Chazen, BS ’55, never could have predicted as an 18-year-old high school senior in 1951. Born and raised in St. Louis, Melvin knew he could not afford to move away from his hometown for college. Luckily, nearby WashU offered the rigorous chemical engineering program he sought. And so, in the fall of 1951, Melvin began commuting to campus from his childhood home in the city, a daily journey that clocked nearly 45 minutes and required a streetcar and a bus.
Melvin found his engineering professors and coursework truly challenging, and he credits his time at WashU with providing the sound scientific foundation and problem-solving skills he needed to succeed as a chemical engineer. “A good engineering school prepares you to take what you’ve learned in the classroom and apply it to your work in the industry, and WashU did that for me,” he says. After earning his degree in 1955, Melvin built a distinguished reputation in the field. He spent 29 years as the chief engineer of rocket engines at Bell Aerospace Corp. in Buffalo, New York, where he developed engines for the Minuteman III Upper Stage rocket, commercial satellite engines and technology programs. He then transitioned to TRW, Inc. in Redondo Beach, California, serving as the program manager and technical director for NASA’s advanced engines for 12 years before retiring in 1999.
When he married Dorothea Glazer in 1958, the only person in her family who had heard of WashU was her twin brother. With Melvin now in the family fold, WashU firmly entered the Glazers’ radar. So it was not a complete surprise when niece Marlene Kaplan,
BS ’72, and nephew Arnold Shapiro, AB ’72, both applied and eventually enrolled at WashU in the late 1960s. By the time another Glazer nephew, Julian Goldstein, BSBA ’80, arrived on campus in the fall of 1976, it was clear the family’s various ties to the university were multiplying.
Julian was drawn to WashU because of his cousin Arnold, whose undergraduate years had yielded fond memories and admission to medical school. Julian came to WashU as a shy and quiet teenager from Rochester, New York, but he left an outgoing and self-assured leader. He became an active member of Sigma Alpha Mu and made lifelong friends as the fraternity’s recruitment chair. He won election to Student Union and was invited to join Thurtene Honorary. Quickly abandoning the pre-medicine track of his cousin, Julian found his academic niche at Olin Business School, which equipped him for future business success.
WashU also brought him closer to his family. By his senior year, his cousin Avie Glazer, BSBA ’82, was a sophomore, and his younger sister, Jackie Goldstein Blank, AB ’83, was a first-year student. As fraternity brothers and housemates, Julian and Avie spent more time together than ever before and developed a deep friendship and many mutual friends. Although Julian and Jackie did not get along well while growing up, their relationship blossomed as Julian introduced WashU to his sister.
One of the reasons Julian’s undergraduate years remain so special to him was that he experienced them with family. Now an even younger generation is following suit. This fall, Julian’s youngest daughter, Isabel Goldstein, Class of 2025, will join her older sister, Sophie Goldstein, Class of 2022, and their cousin, Daniel Goldstein, Class of 2024, at WashU.
As if written in the stars, their configuration will exactly mirror the Julian-Avie-Jackie triad of decades past. Like her father, Sophie will be able to offer invaluable support to her younger sister, sharing insider knowledge and favorite spots on campus and around St. Louis. More important, however, she looks forward to helping Isabel discover her WashU, just as she has been able to do.
Melvin Chazen came to WashU because he believed a high-quality education was the surest path to success. Seven decades later, generations of the Glazer family continue to follow his lead. However, it takes more than academic excellence to sustain a history such as theirs. WashU genuinely feels like home to the Glazers because of its community spirit and culture of collegiality and kindness. “Just like flowers, people bloom at different times,” Julian says. “And our family knows that WashU is a great place for young people to bloom.”