From left: Mr. Stephen H. Hoffman, Professor Ariel Porat, Professor Jehuda Reinharz, and Mr. Moshe Vigdor (Photo: Yehonatan Zur)
Tel Aviv University conferred its highest honor – the degree of Doctor Philosophiae Honoris Causa – upon
Mr. Morton L. Mandel, chairman and CEO of the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation.
“Mort Mandel is a prominent philanthropist who has received countless awards,
Professor Ariel Porat, president of Tel Aviv University, told distinguished guests at a ceremony held on the TAU campus. “The Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation, founded in 1993, supports educational programs and leadership around the world. They have invested over half a billion dollars in Israel alone, which is nothing short of amazing.
“While the scope of the foundation’s activities in Israel is extremely broad,” Professor Porat continued,” they keep a low profile, which I think speaks to the character of Mort: talking less, doing more.”
The award ceremony marked the launch at TAU, in the upcoming 2019-2020 academic year, of the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for STEM and the Humanities, which is aimed at fostering Israel’s next generation of well-rounded technological leaders. The new Center builds on and expands the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Program for Humanities in Engineering pioneered at TAU in 2016. A unique honors track, the program affords outstanding TAU engineering students the opportunity to take courses in the humanities toward their engineering degrees. Due to its success, the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation generously approved expanding the program to two additional TAU faculties: exact sciences and life sciences.
“Our curriculum makes students more thoughtful, independent, critical and inventive,” described Professor Yochai Oppenheimer, chair of the Mandel Program for Humanities in Engineering. “They become better equipped to handle the professional challenges of our fast-paced world.”
Mandel Program participant Ms. Merav David, a bachelor's of science student in industrial engineering and management, confirmed that “the courses in the Humanities provided the critical ‘missing piece’ in my engineering studies, helping me become more analytical and have a wider perspective.”
President Porat stressed: “The newly expanded Mandel program is one of the most important activities at the University – creating this fantastic combination between humanities and sciences, and furthering our interdisciplinary vision for the University as we move forward.”
Professor Jehuda Reinharz, president of the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation, accepted the honorary degree on behalf of Mr. Mandel, together with
Mr. Stephen H. Hoffman, vice chairman of the Mandel Foundation, and
Mr. Moshe Vigdor, director general of the Mandel Foundation in Israel.
“On behalf of
Mort Mandel, I thank the University for bestowing this high honor,” said Professor Reinharz. “Mort has a special affinity for Israel and for Tel Aviv University in particular. Mort began his business as a very young man, when opportunities were scarce, and he did not manage to obtain a college degree. This always remained in the back of his mind, and when he was his 90s, he finally received his bachelor's degree.
“Mort is a symbol of someone who never gave up on learning. The humanities are a very important part of what the foundation supports, and Mort is convinced that the scientists and engineers who graduate from the TAU program will bring new sensitivity to their fields. We think this is a model for other universities to emulate in Israel and the world,” Professor Reinharz said.
Attendees at the ceremony included TAU vice president
Professor Raanan Rein; TAU vice president for development
Amos Elad; TAU vice rector
Professor Eyal Zisser; humanities dean
Professor Leo Corry; exact sciences dean
Professor Michael Krivelevich; a number of vice deans; and the CEO of the American Friends of Tel Aviv University,
Ms. Jennifer Gross.