BOG 2018: Honorary Degrees Awarded

Honors reflect contributions to science, arts, economics, political life, business and philanthropy
29 May 2018
2018 Honorary Degrees Honorees Credit: Aviv Hofi

In a dazzling ceremony held during the 2018 Board of Governors Meeting, Tel Aviv University conferred its highest distinctions upon nine exceptional laureates. They included a leading journalist, a former president and a cultural icon alongside successful businessmen, noted philanthropists and pioneering scientists. The ceremony was held in the Miriam and Adolfo Smolarz Auditorium in the presence of senior TAU officials and academics, Governors and friends, members of the diplomatic corps, and other guests.


Board of Governors Chairman Prof. Jacob A. Frenkel noted that this year’s ceremony was being held to coincide with Israel’s 70th anniversary. Looking back to the era of Israel’s Independence, he explained that “while Israel was still struggling for its survival, it became clear that its future would depend on human capital that would be home grown.” He continued, “Tel Aviv University was one of the first universities born to the young nation and, thanks to the commitment here in Israel, farsighted support from Jewry abroad and Tel Aviv’s centrality in business and culture, Tel Aviv University flourished. Today it ranks among the top 100 universities in the world across the spectrum of fields.”


TAU President Joseph Klafter congratulated the award recipients, who have “infused their fields with creativity and expertise, whether in academia, business, culture or civic life. Tenacious and inventive, our honorees have overcome obstacles to forge paths of remarkable accomplishment. They represent everything that Tel Aviv University stands for, and that we teach our students,” he said.  


Honorary Doctorate recipients



Dr. Ilana Dayan-Orbach, Israel  


Dr. Ilana Dayan-Orbach is an Israeli TV journalist who has, since 1993, anchored the award-winning, weekly investigative-news program Uvda (“Fact”). A TAU law alumna and member of the Israeli Bar Association, Dayan-Orbach holds an LLM and JSD from Yale Law School and is a former Fulbright Fellow. She has lectured at TAU’s Buchmann Faculty of Law since 1993, where she teaches a course on freedom of speech. She was recognized for her “immense contribution to Israeli civil and democratic discourse as a highly respected investigative journalist, law teacher and media personality, in particular her courageous exposes that have challenged accepted wisdom and provided new perspectives on Israeli politics, society and culture.”​



Dr. Karnit Flug, Israel


​​Dr. Karnit Flug has been Governor of the Bank of Israel since October 2013, after previously serving as Deputy Governor and Director of the Bank of Israel’s Research Department. Dr. Flug earned an MA in Economics from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a PhD in Economics from Columbia University. She has been ranked among the top 10 central bankers in the world by Global Finance magazine. Dr. Klug was recognized for her “exceptional stewardship of Israel’s monetary policy and economy; her pioneering role as Israel’s first female governor of the Bank of Israel; her life-long commitment to Israel’s prosperity, market stability and social progressiveness; and her egalitarian spirit in supporting initiatives that bridge social gaps.”



HE Luis Alberto Lacalle de Herrera, Uruguay


​Dr. Luis Alberto Lacalle de Herrera was President of Uruguay between 1990 and 1995. A former journalist and a graduate of the Law School of the University of the Republic, he served as Member of Parliament from 1971 until the 1973. In 1984, Lacalle was elected Senator and later Vice President of the Senate. He has received numerous accolades, among them a knighthood from the Queen of England, the Jerusalem Prize and national medals from Ecuador, Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil and Spain. He was recognized for “his exceptional achievements as former President Uruguay and as an international statesman, lawmaker and journalist; his stewardship of economic and social reform in Uruguay; his ardent condemnation of anti-Semitism and discrimination in all its forms; and his warm friendship with TAU and keen participation in events run by its Argentinean Friends Association.” 



Prof. László Lovász, Hungary


​Born in Budapest in 1948, László Lovász is a mathematician best known for his work in combinatorics, graph theory and theoretical computer science. Lovász is a member of the Department of Computer Science at Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, and former director of its Mathematical Institute. Among numerous awards and high honors, he holds the Wolf Prize and the Kyoto Prize, and served as President of the International Mathematical Union from 2007-2010. He was recognized for his “accomplishments as a world-renowned mathematician and a founding father of modern combinatorics; his discovery in algorithmic theory that have had far-reaching influence on both pure mathematics and computer science and his close and fruitful ties with Israeli academia, including with Tel Aviv University.”



Ma Yun (Jack Ma), China 


​Jack Ma is lead founder and Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group. He is a member of the Foundation Board of the World Economic Forum, an advocate of UN Sustainable Development Goals and special adviser to the UN Conference on Trade and Development for Youth Entrepreneurship and Small Business. Ma graduated from Hangzhou Teacher's Institute with a major in English language education. He is the founder of Alibaba Group, a company that serves tens of millions of small businesses and entrepreneurs around the globe through e-commerce, online financial services, cloud computing and smart logistics. He was recognized “for his visionary entrepreneurial achievements that have transformed the face of business and the internet in China and worldwide; his exceptional business acumen in founding Alibaba group and turning it into the world’s largest e-commerce company; and his extensive philanthropic activities in education, empowering women, disaster relief, battling poverty and protecting wildlife and the environment.”

“Never give up, always keep trying” Mr. Ma told attendees in his acceptance speech, which was delivered on behalf of all the honorees at the ceremony. “This motto reflects both Israel’s and Alibaba’s success. Coming to Israel was a dream I had for many years. I should have been here earlier. People should not read about Israel, they should come here, feel it and touch it. To me, Israel represents wisdom, innovation and persistence,” he enthused. 



Prof. Knut W. Urban, Germany


​Physicist Prof. Knut Urban gained his PhD from the University of Stuttgart in 1972 and subsequently joined the Max Planck Institute of Metals Research. He served as Director of the Institute of Microstructure Research at Jülich Research Center, one of the largest interdisciplinary research centers in Europe, from 1987 to 2010. He was also one of two founding directors of the Ernst Ruska Center for Microscopy and Spectroscopy with Electrons in 2004. A laureate of the MRS von Hippel Award, the HONDA Prize for Ecotechnology and the Wolf Prize in Physics, Urban is the Yuval Neeman Distinguished Lecturer at TAU. He was recognized for “his illustrious academic career spanning more than four decades as a physicist, materials scientist and pioneer of next-generation electron microscopy; his revolutionary development of an electron microscope with aberration-correction capabilities; and his fruitful ongoing collaborations with Tel Aviv University scientists.”



Dr. Dmitry B. Zimin, Russia


​Dmitry Zimin is a professor of engineering at the State University – Higher School of Economics in Moscow. He holds a PhD in technical sciences from the Moscow Aviation Institute and, for over 35 years, held various leadership roles at the military-industrial Mintz Radio Technical Institute. Zimin is the former CEO and current Honorary President of mobile telecommunications company VimpelCom. He founded the Zimin Institute for Engineering Solutions Advancing Better Lives at TAU and previously launched a project at the TAU law faculty in support of Israeli-Russian student exchange and the study of Russian law. He was recognized his “exceptional accomplishments as a scientist, inventor, businessman and philanthropist; his entrepreneurial prowess in founding and directing the VimpelCom mobile telecommunications company; and his profound belief in the power of education and the creation of the first NGO supporting basic science and education in post-Soviet Russia.” Since Dr. Zimin was unable to attend the ceremony, his son, Boris, accepted the award on his behalf.



Honorary Fellowships


The Batsheva Dance Company, Israel

(Accepted by BatSheva CEO Dina Aldor)


​Founded in 1964 by the Baroness Batsheva de Rothschild, Batsheva is one of the world’s foremost contemporary dance companies.  Batsheva comprises 40 dancers drawn from Israel and abroad, who give over 250 performances to 100,000 spectators in Israel and abroad annually. Ohad Naharin, hailed as one of the world's leading contemporary choreographers, assumed the role of Artistic Director in 1990, propelling the company into a new era with his adventurous curatorial vision and distinctive choreographic voice. The company was recognized for “its bold choreographic voice and readiness to break new ground in dance movement and expression; and its uncompromising commitment to nurturing both excellence and egalitarianism in artistic creation.”



Lili Peyser-Racine, Israel


​Born in Paris in 1939, Lili Peyser-Racine is an Israeli philanthropist, TAU Governor and an active member of the World WIZO leadership. Lili and her family fled to the south of France during the Nazi occupation; her parents joined the Jewish underground, forged documents and smuggled Jewish children into Switzerland. In 1952 the family immigrated to Israel where Lili’s father established the Delek oil company. Lili joined TAU’s Israeli Friends Association and has since supported numerous projects advancing needy students, young researchers, lab equipment and, most recently, the Entrance Plaza at the TAU Botanic Garden. She was recognized for “her profound love of Israel and dedication to its scientific and social development; her compassionate public spirit in championing projects that advance health and assist the needy and her efforts to expand her family’s philanthropic legacy of reinforcing Israeli society; and her decades-long support for the academic and physical growth of Tel Aviv University.”



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