Business and civic leader Mort Mandel awarded TAU Honorary Doctorate

Mr. Stephen H. Hoffman, Prof. Ariel Porat, Prof. Jehuda Reinharz and Mr. Moshe Vigdor. Photo: Yehonatan Zur.

Mr. Mandel cited for his visionary philanthropy and establishment of the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for STEM and the Humanities at TAU

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Morton L. Mandel.

Tel Aviv University conferred its highest honor — the degree of Doctor Philosophiae Honoris Causa — upon legendary entrepreneur and Israel supporter Mr. Morton L. Mandel.

“Mort Mandel is a prominent philanthropist who has received countless awards,” Prof. 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,” Prof. 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 2019-20 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 Prof. 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 BSc 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.”

Prof. 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 Prof. 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 his BA. This always remained in the back of his mind, and when he was his 90s, he finally received his BA.

“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,” Prof. Reinharz said.

Morton Mandel is a self-made billionaire. Together with his brothers, Jack and Joe, he founded the Premier Industrial Corporation in 1940, a company that went on to become one of the world’s leading industrial parts and electronic components distributors. Mort was Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer until Premier merged with Farnell Electronics PLC in 1996 to form Premier Farnell PLC.

For decades, Mort has devoted a substantial amount of his time to philanthropy, personally founding, or helping to found, over a dozen non-profit organizations. He has served on the boards of diverse local and national non-profit organizations, and has received numerous accolades for his professional and philanthropic achievements, most notably the Presidential Award for Private Sector Initiatives presented by President Ronald Reagan. He is the author of It’s All About Who, in which he shares his fine-tuned set of practices to develop leaders capable of building institutions in the for-profit and non-profit fields.

Attendees at the ceremony included TAU Vice President Prof. Raanan Rein; TAU Vice President for Development Amos Elad; TAU Vice Rector Prof. Eyal Zisser; Humanities Dean Prof. Leo Corry; Exact Sciences Dean Prof. Michael Krivelevich; a number of vice deans; and CEO of American Friends of Tel Aviv University, Ms. Jennifer Gross.