American Friends Helen Sarah Steyer and Thomas Mark Steyer Awarded Honorary Doctorates from TAU Thursday, June 21, 2012
Siblings and philanthropists honored for scholarship aid and support of the medical and exact sciences, public policy, and the arts
Thomas Mark Steyer and Helen Sarah Steyer
In an impressive ceremony on the opening day of Tel Aviv University's 2012 Board of Governors meeting on Thursday, June 7, siblings Helen Sarah Steyer and Thomas Mark Steyer received the university's most distinguished honor, the degree of Doctor Philosophiae Honoris Causa.
At the stately and inspiring ceremony, Helen Steyer's degree was conferred in honor of her contribution to society, both professionally and philanthropically, recognizing her successful career as a Spanish-language specialist and lecturer, and her social commitment in the spheres of education, health, youth welfare, Jewish heritage, and arts and culture. Her support for major philanthropic endeavors encompasses notable projects in Israel and, in the United States, Florida and the San Francisco Bay Area, most of which were established in conjunction with her brother.
TAU President Prof. Joseph Klafter, TAU Rector Prof. Aron Shai, and Helen Sarah Steyer
Tommy Steyer's degree was conferred in honor of his dedication to the university and his hands-on approach to philanthropy, including a broad range of initiatives such as cancer research, mental health advocacy, interfaith dialogue, education and literacy programs. He was also recognized for his accomplishments as a business leader, including 30 years as General Manager of Vista C.A. and Inmobiliaria Toladis C.A., and his current position heading the family's international real estate corporation.
In distinguished company
They are members of a distinguished group of 2012 laureates in the sciences, academia, law, the arts, social activism, and business, including American recipients Prof. Ronald Raphael Coifman, professor of mathematics and computer sciences at Yale University, and Prof. Robert D. Putnam, the Peter and Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.
The other six honorees are singer and actor Yehoram Gaon (Israel); the president of Germany's National Academy of Sciences, Prof. Jörg Hacker (Germany); actress and comedienne Maureen Lipman (England); entrepreneur and philanthropist Miles S. Nadal (Canada); social activist Miki Nevo (Israel); and retired judge Saviona Rotlevy (Israel).
The long line of Tel Aviv University's previous degree recipients is a virtual global Who's Who of the past 60 years. Statesmen include David Ben Gurion, Bill Clinton, Margaret Thatcher, Golda Meir, Ronald Reagan, Henry Kissinger and Yitzhak Rabin. Recipients in the arts include Leonard Bernstein, Marc Chagall, Eugene Ionesco, Henry Moore, Santiago Calatrava and Franco Zeffirelli. In the world of business and finance, recipients include Armand Hammer, Laurence Tisch, Sheldon Adelson, Martin Whitman and Michael Steinhardt. Scientists and scholars include Bernard Lewis, Eric Lander, Edward Teller, Miriam Adelson, and Elie Wiesel.
A family tradition of philanthropy
Joseph Klafter, Aron Shai, and Thomas Mark Steyer
In their communities in Florida and California, in Israel, and earlier in Venezuela, the Steyers are exceptionally active philanthropists. Long-standing friends of Tel Aviv University, they became involved with the university in 1984 together with their late father, in whose honor and memory they endowed the Stanley Steyer School of Health Professions. They were elected to its Board of Governors in 1990.
Their father created a number of major projects at Tel Aviv University, with a focus on cancer research, including the Stanley Steyer Institute for Cancer Epidemiology and Research and The Diana and Stanley Steyer Chair in Cancer Prevention and Controlat the Sackler Faculty of Medicine.
Their most recent project, the Helen Sarah Steyer and Thomas Mark Steyer Scholarship Endowment Fund was inaugurated at a ceremony at the 2012 Board of Governors Meeting. Each year, the endowment will support seven outstanding undergraduates who have distinguished themselves academically but have limited access to higher education for financial reasons.
The power of dedication
In his address to the laureates, TAU President Joseph Klafter spoke about the outstanding dedication that illuminated the accomplishments of all of the honorary doctorate recipients.
"Whether business, art or public service, each honoree has had to overcome questions and setbacks," he said. "In recognizing achievement, as we are doing together now, we are also sending a powerful message to everyone at Tel Aviv University, and indeed to everyone involved in the knowledge enterprise. No, it's not easy. Yes, there are more questions than answers. But with determination and love, you can succeed."
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