In Memoriam: Florence Rosenberg Wise

AFTAU board member's 100 years were a celebration of Israel, education, and the arts

Florence WiseWe mourn the passing of our friend Florence Rosenberg Wise, a member of Tel Aviv University's International Board of Governors and American Friends of Tel Aviv University's Board of Directors, on Friday, January 11, 2013, in Miami Beach, FL at the age of 100.

Mrs. Wise was a passionate supporter of Israel, as was her late husband Dr. George S. Wise, Tel Aviv University's first president and chancellor. They worked together as a dynamic team to support the state of Israel and — from its earliest years — Tel Aviv University. The couple were both honored with the university's most distinguished recognition, the degree of Doctor Philosophiae Honoris Causa, in 1972.

Witty, smart, gracious, and generous, Mrs. Wise was also an accomplished artist who graduated from New York University with a degree in Fine Arts, and was subsequently appointed an Associate Professor there. Among her students were several well-known modern painters, including Larry Rivers. An avant garde film she produced about art is in the collections of the Smithsonian Museum.

A splendid legacy

Tel Aviv University houses multiple buildings, faculties, and chairs named for both Florence and George Wise and her late father, Chaim Rosenberg, including the Florence and George Wise Observatory and the George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences. During Dr. Wise's eight years as TAU president, Mrs. Wise helped expand the campus from one building to 26; from two faculties to nine; and from 1,200 students to 11,000. Following her husband's death in 1987, Mrs. Wise continued to serve as a tireless fundraiser and substantial donor herself.

Last year, on the occasion of Mrs. Wise's 100th birthday, TAU President Joseph Klafter toasted her: "Florence advanced her husband's dream of developing TAU into Israel's largest university, supporting many university projects generously. The biggest one, the George S. Wise Senate Building, was dedicated in 1999, and the thoroughfare leading up to it was renamed 'Dr. George S. Wise Street' by the municipality of Tel Aviv.

"After Dr. Wise's passing, Florence continued to advance his dream. Just as the Wise Building is in the heart of our campus, Tel Aviv University remains in the heart of Florence Wise," he said.

She is survived by her nephew, Dr. Jonathan Sarlin of New York, his wife, Yosefa, their children Ehud and Avital, and the entire family.

For more American Friends of Tel Aviv University news, click here.

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