BOG 2015: Honorary Degrees Awarded
In a lively ceremony during Tel Aviv University’s annual Board of Governors Meeting, the University conferred its most distinguished awards on a remarkable group of figures recognized for their professional and social contributions to science, innovation, business, philanthropy, defense and the arts and for their staunch support of the State of Israel. For the video of the ceremony, click here.
The George S. Wise Medal, commemorating Tel Aviv University’s founding President, was bestowed on former President of Poland Aleksander Kwaśniewski, in recognition of his extraordinary accomplishments in transforming Poland into a modern market economy and his efforts to fight anti-Semitism and strengthen Israeli-Polish relations.
In his acceptance speech, which was delivered on behalf of all the honorees, Kwaśniewski said, “This is a particularly special distinction as it comes from an academy whose achievements, both in the field of humanities as well as the sciences, make it one of the most excellent centers of scientific thought.” Pointing to the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe, Kwaśniewski said, “One of the pillars of my presidency was to strengthen tolerance among different religious and ethnic groups. I believe that we must get to know the past not only to understand the present but also to read the future. This is my message for Europe and for the world community.”
Chairman of the Board of Governors Prof. Jacob A. Frenkel opened the evening’s proceedings, saying, “Our honorees demonstrate the full range of leadership qualities and characteristics: they are big vision people with big ideas, they are educators and mentors eager to share their expertise with the younger generation, and they are innovators and pioneers.”
In his greetings, TAU President Joseph Klafter said that a “love for humanity, for intellectual exploration, for heritage and remembrance, for ventures and challenge, for creativity and artistic expression and for Israel” was a common thread linking all the honorees.
TAU Governor and alumna Mrs. Bareket Buchmann of Frankfurt, Germany, a member of the Israel Bar Association, was recognized for her tireless philanthropic work, together with her husband, Josef, in supporting initiatives in education, healthcare, Jewish heritage, Holocaust remembrance, social welfare and the arts, and for being an engaged member of the German Friends Association and patron of major projects on campus, among them the Buchmann-Mehta School of Music, the Buchmann Faculty of Law and the Buchmann Doctoral Fellowship Fund.
Dr. David Korenfeld Federman of Mexico City, an internationally respected water management specialist, was recognized for his championing of cooperative ties in the water field between Israel and Mexico and his instrumental role in the founding of TAU’s new Water Research Center, a framework for Tel Aviv University water experts to provide vital technical support and research services to CONAGUA – the National Commission of Water Works of Mexico.
Business Wire founder, philanthropist and TAU Governor Lorry I. Lokey of San Francisco received the degree for his remarkable accomplishments, indomitable spirit, and extraordinary and magnanimous approach to charitable giving and commitment to higher education. Mr. Lokey recently established the Lorry I. Lokey Graduate Center at TAU’s Leon Recanati Graduate School of Business Administration.
Mrs. Millie Phillips of Sydney, one of Australia’s most prominent businesswomen, was recognized as a female trailblazer and philanthropist with a deep and abiding commitment to the State of Israel, including generous support for Tel Aviv University.
Honorary doctorates were also awarded to Prof. Thomas Römer, one of the world’s leading biblical scholars, who is affiliated with leading universities in Paris, Lausanne and Pretoria and has also been a Fellow of TAU’s Sackler Institute of Advanced Studies; Prof. Yakov Sinai of Princeton University, one of the most influential mathematicians of our time; and Russian violinist and conductor Maestro Vladimir Spivakov, who has performed with some of the world’s leading conductors including Leonard Bernstein.
The University conferred an Honorary Fellowship on TAU Governor and Chairman Emeritus of American Friends of Tel Aviv University William F. Cohen of New Jersey. He established, together with his sister Gail White, the Helene Westreich Film and Television Studio in the Yolanda and David Katz Faculty of the Arts and supports the B.I. and Lucille Cohen Institute for Public Opinion Research at TAU’s Gershon H. Gordon Faculty of Social Sciences.
In recognition of their outstanding contribution to the defense of Israel, Honorary Fellowships were awarded to the Executive Directors of Iron Dome: TAU graduate Brig. Gen. (res.) Dr. Daniel Gold, founder and CEO of Gold R&D Technology and Innovation Ltd., former Head of R&D at the Israel Ministry of Defense and the Israel Defense Forces and seven times winner of the Israel Defense Prize; Natan Barak, Head of the Command & Control System of Iron Dome; Yossi Druker, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Air Superiority Systems Division of Rafael and recipient of the Israel Defense Prize and Lt. col. (res.) Eyal Shapira, Director of Air Surveillance and C-RAM at ELTA Systems and recipient of the Israel Defense Prize for his role in Iron Dome.
A TAU Honorary Fellowship was also awarded to the Israeli Opera, directed by Hanna Munitz, for its extraordinary contribution over three decades to enriching Israeli culture and for placing Israel firmly on the international operatic map. Members of the Israeli Opera performed moving works at the event.
The list of previous TAU honorary degree recipients is a virtual Who’s Who of the past 60 years, including statesmen and women David Ben-Gurion, Golda Meir, Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, Henry Kissinger, Bill Clinton, Yitzhak Rabin and Angela Merkel; and in the arts, Leonard Bernstein, Shai Agnon, Marc Chagall, Eugene Ionesco, Henry Moore, Margaret Atwood and Santiago Calatrava, among others. In the world of business and finance, recipients include Armand Hammer, Laurence Tisch, Sheldon Adelson, Martin Whitman and Michael Steinhardt. Scientists and scholars include Bernard Lewis, Eric Lander, Edward Teller, Miriam Adelson and Elie Wiesel.
All photos by Michal Roche-Ben Ami.