Like Father Like Son
Tel Aviv University’s Malka Brender Hall of Justice was filled to capacity as a multilingual crowd gathered to celebrate the inauguration of the Isaac Gilinski Chair of Entrepreneurship, Technology, Innovation and Management at TAU’s Faculty of Management—Leon Recanati Graduate School of Business Administration. The Chair, dedicated to strengthening Israel’s position as a world leader in business and high tech, was endowed by banker and philanthropist Jaime Gilinski of London, in the name of his father, outgoing Colombian Ambassador to Israel, Isaac Gilinski.
A commitment to innovation
In his opening remarks, Prof. Raanan Rein, TAU Vice President and Sourasky Professor of Latin American and Spanish History, praised the Ambassador for “his commitment to his native Columbia, the State of Israel, the Jewish people and the cause of education. He is a dear friend, a diplomat and gentleman.” Of his son Jaime, Prof. Rein said that, from the beginning, “I found in Jaime Gilinski a partner in this initiative, and I would like to praise his vision and leadership, a true sign of a prominent entrepreneur.”
TAU President Joseph Klafter spoke of the exceptional role of TAU in fostering innovative minds, explaining how the University was chosen by the city of Nanjing to train top Chinese executives, how it’s executive MBA programs are the most sought after in the country, and how StarTAU – the University’s Entrepreneurship Center – is gaining increasing international attention. “Tel Aviv University lives and breathes innovation, and that is why the establishment of the Gilinski Chair is happening in the right place, in the right time, and with the right person as its incumbent, Prof. Moshe Zviran. Under Moshe, who is both an outstanding researcher and an academic innovator, the Chair will foster new expertise with practical applications for global and Israeli high-tech growth.”
President Klafter thanked the Gilinskis “for strengthening TAU’s contribution to a research field so vital to Israel.”
From left: Colombian Ambassador to Israel Isaac Gilinski, incumbent Isaac Gilinski Chair Prof. Moshe Zviran, TAU Vice President Ranaan Rein, and TAU President Joseph Klafter.
The spirit of entrepreneurship
Jaime Gilinski paid homage to his father’s business prowess which began 60 years ago when he founded his first company at a young age. "Throughout his long career, my father has had the vision, energy, determination and true love to create companies that fulfilled his mission of helping many people," he said. “My father is a true leader and great example for all of us to follow.” Praising Tel Aviv University for training outstanding leaders in all sectors of society, he expressed his hope that the Chair would promote evermore research excellence in the years to come.
Like his father, Jaime Gilinski rose to prominence as a banker and philanthropist. He is the former owner of the Bank of Columbia, developer of the Panama Pacifico community in Panama and a Harvard Business School graduate. Gilinski is a noted benefactor to many causes, including the Santa Fe hospital in Bogota, the Chabad House at Harvard University, the Harvard Business School, and Harvard Latin American studies and fellowships.
Prof. Moshe Zviran, the incumbent Isaac Gilinski Chair of Entrepreneurship, Technology, Innovation and Management, speaking at the inauguration.
Foundations of success
Ambassador Gilinski, visibly touched by the honor of having the Chair endowed in his name, spoke of his love of Israel and enduring faith in the power of Israeli higher education to maintain the Jewish state’s eminence as a world technological leader. “Since the creation of the State of Israel, it has been my family’s priority to support it in every way possible. From my parents who came here as young pioneers in the 1920s, I learned of the critical role Israel was to play in my life, and in the life of all Jewish communities in the world.”
Born in the northern Colombian city of Barranquilla, Isaac Gilinski trained as a chemical engineer, earning an MA in Industrial Administration before rising as a banker, industrialist, entrepreneur, and then a diplomat. He spoke of his posting in Israel, saying that “after being here for three years, I have seen the country grow incredibly. I always wonder, how do they do it? Much has to with Israel’s universities,” which he hailed as the foundation of the Jewish state’s success.
Ambassador Gilinski said that he is “very proud to have been part of the growth and the outreach of this great institution,” and recounted how his relationship with the TAU began in 1982, when the late Benno M. Gitter — legendary Chairman of TAU’s Board of Governors — brought him to the campus. “Tel Aviv University is perceived all over the world as the leading center of advanced education in Israel,” he remarked, “and has trained many of the scientists and engineers responsible for placing Israel and Israeli companies at the forefront of the global high-tech revolution.”
On a personal note, Ambassador Gilinski thanked his wife, Perla Gilinski, his son, Jaime, for the great honor of endowing the Chair in his name, and his two daughters, Rutie and Tania, for making the journey to Israel.
Following the ceremony, the President of the Spanish-speaking Friends of TAU, Guillermo Swerdlin, presented Ambassador Gilinski with a certificate and medal of appreciation. Chair incumbent Prof. Moshe Zviran then delivered a lecture on the inextricable relationship between innovation and economic growth, emphasizing how Israel’s universities drive Israeli high tech by producing highly-skilled, forward-looking innovators.