BOG 2016: Honorary Degrees Awarded
In a lively ceremony held during the 2016 Board of Governors Meeting, Tel Aviv University conferred its most distinguished awards on a remarkable group of figures in recognition of their professional and philanthropic contributions to society and their staunch support for the State of Israel.
Chairman of the Board of Governors Prof. Jacob A. Frenkel opened the evening’s proceedings, noting that as TAU celebrates its 60th anniversary, the University today engages in a vast range of areas. The values common to them all are: excellence, leadership, questing after innovation and new frontiers, contribution to society and the exchange of knowledge with the world,” he said. “Tonight’s distinguished group of honorees illustrates these supreme values.”
TAU President Joseph Klafter said, “Tonight we recognize a number of individuals who are boldly changing history with their impressive pursuits. We salute our honorees’ determination and celebrate their ambition to effect change.”
The George S. Wise Medal, commemorating Tel Aviv University’s founding President, was bestowed on Mortimer B. Zuckerman of Canada, a prominent business, civic and Jewish leader. Mr. Zuckerman is a self-made entrepreneur in the real estate and media industries whose influential commentaries have addressed key moral issues facing the US, Israel and the global community. His transformative philanthropic activities range from child welfare to advanced medical research, including his recent visionary creation of the Zuckerman STEM Leadership Program for enhancing US-Israeli scientific collaboration.
Boaz Dotan co-founded the highly successful Israeli high-tech firm Amdocs and successfully headed it for over ten years. Dotan and his wife, Varda, are ardent supporters of medical care and research throughout Israel, most recently establishing the Varda and Boaz Dotan Research Center for Hemato-Oncology at Tel Aviv University. The Center is training a new generation of Israeli cancer researchers and enabling unprecedented collaborations with hospitals. Dotan also plays an active role in improving youth services. He is a Tel Aviv University alumnus of mathematics and statistics.
Dr. Segenet Kelemu is a scientist, leader, teacher and mentor in the field of molecular plant pathology. She is currently the Director General of the International Center of Insect Physiology and Ecology in Kenya, and Director of the Eastern and Central Africa Biosciences Hub. A native of Ethiopia, she has experienced the challenges and successes of African agriculture firsthand, from tending the field to directing world-class laboratories. Among her many honors are the 2014 L’Òreal UNESCO Women in Science Award and the prestigious Friendship Award bestowed by the People’s Republic of China. Dr. Kelemu is a member of the International Scientific Committee of TAU’s Manna Center Program for Food Safety & Security.
Michal Rovner is an internationally acclaimed Israeli multimedia artist working in video, digital media, sculpture, drawing, photography, sound and architectural installations. one of Israel’s most successful and prolific artists. Her thought-provoking and original creations have been exhibited at the world’s most prestigious venues, including Tate Britain, the Louvre, the Whitney Museum of Art and the Israeli Pavilion of the Venice Biennale. Rovner studied art at the Bezalel Academy of Art and holds degrees in both philosophy and film studies from TAU.
Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, former Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, is a global religious leader, philosopher, author and intellectual. An influential moral thinker and tireless proponent of interfaith dialogue, Rabbi Sacks was knighted by Her Majesty Queen in 2005 and made a life peer in 2009. He has held numerous academic positions including as the Ingeborg and Ira Rennert Global Distinguished Professor of Judaic Thought at New York University and Professor of Law, Ethics and the Bible at Kings College London. He holds a plethora of international awards including the Jerusalem Prize in 1995 for his contribution to diaspora Jewish life and, most recently, the 2016Templeton Prize.
In his acceptance speech, which was delivered on behalf of all the honorees, Rabbi Sacks spoke at length about his fears and concerns about anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment on American and European campuses. "But here at Israeli universities, like Tel Aviv University, people of all different kinds and faiths come together. Tel Aviv University has held firm to its principles. This commitment to its principles of integrity, honesty and love of truth has made you one of the best universities of the world,” he said.
Oscar-winning producer Steve Tisch was recognized for his vision and global influence in cinematic art and for his commitment and major contribution to TAU through the dedication of the Steve Tisch School of Film and Television. The School, Israel’s leading institution in the field, is providing talented young Israeli filmmakers with the world-class education they need to forge their own unique path in the industry. Tisch’s four decade-long cinematic career has generated some of the most original and best-loved movies of our generation, including Forest Gump, Risky Business and American History X. His extensive philanthropic activities involve support for medical research, performing arts, culture and sports.
Dr. Boris Mints is a respected civic and Jewish leader in the Russian Federation and Europe. He is the founder, chairman and president of 01 Group, a private holding company that invests in real estate, industrial and financial sectors. He holds a doctorate in engineering sciences and served as an assistant professor of advanced mathematics at the Ivanovo Textile Academy for 7 years. Dr. Mints is an engaged supporter of Israeli and Jewish causes, as well as the arts. At TAU, he founded the Boris Mints Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions to Global Challenges, which is harnessing Israeli ingenuity to bring about positive change in the world.
All photos by Michal Roche – Ben Ami and Israel Hadari.