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Hebrew University Awards Honorary Doctorates

Hebrew University Awards Honorary Doctorates

June 4, 2010

President of the Supreme Court Dorit Beinisch, world-renowned musician Evgeny Kissin, internationally acclaimed astrophysicist Prof. Donald Lynden-Bell CBE and leading philosopher and proponent of human rights Dr. Marcos Aguinis will be among ten distinguished figures to receive honorary doctor of philosophy degrees on Sunday, June 6, at the opening session of the 73rd meeting of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Board of Governors.

Watch video of the convocation

Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch has actively engaged in reinforcing the moral and ethical standards of Israeli society and in the eradication of corruption among State and other ruling bodies, in enhancing the status of the law, and in defending human rights. At the Ministry of Justice, she held senior positions for 28 years. She served as Jerusalem district attorney in the State Attorney’s Office and in the State Attorney’s main bureau, she was director of the Department of the High Court of Justice, and she later served as deputy state attorney. Justice Beinisch played a key role in the litigation following the “Bus 300” affair, displaying both public and personal courage in her insistence on a thorough inquiry into the actions of senior officials in the General Security Services.  In 1989 she was appointed state attorney. In late 1995, Justice Beinisch was elected to the Israeli Supreme Court, where she became prominent for her decisions in defense of fundamental human rights, including those of women and children. In September 2006, she was elected President of the Supreme Court - the first woman in Israel to hold this position.

Dr. Marcos Aguinis is a renowned psychiatrist, best-selling writer and columnist and one of the leading philosophers of our time. Born in Argentina, he relocated to Spain in the 1960s, where he was awarded the Plantea Award. After returning to Argentina, he was designated by President Raúl Alfonsín Undersecretary of Culture and, in 1987, became Secretary of Culture. In this capacity, he sponsored the renowned "cultural renaissance" that flourished in the country at the time. He created the National Program for Democratization of Culture (PRONDEC), and promoted activities aimed at raising individual awareness of the rights, duties and potentialities that a true democracy supports. Through his writings, he has presented his prophetic vision for the solution of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the internal struggles within the Catholic Church, authoritarian political trends, and the resurgence of ethnic and religious fundamentalism. He has been very active in fighting anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. His life's work was recognized with a nomination for the UNESCO Education for Peace Award.

Evgeny Kissin is a world-renowned musician who has captivated audiences with his extraordinary musical gift from a young age, combining genuine musical virtuosity with rare professional dedication. Moscow-born Kissin debuted with the Ulyanovsk Symphony Orchestra at age ten and, at age twelve, drew much international attention with his interpretations of Chopin’s Piano Concertos 1 and 2. The first pianist to give a recital at the BBC Proms and the first concerto soloist to perform at a Proms opening concert, he is universally respected as a leader of the new generation of young pianists. He is the only classical musician to have won two Grammy awards and is the recipient of the Musician of the Year Award from the Chigiana Academy of Music in Sienna, of Musical America’s Youngest Instrumentalist of the Year, and of Russia’s prestigious Triumph and Shostakovich awards.

Prof. Donald Lynden-Bell CBE is an internationally acclaimed astrophysicist renowned for his original and influential ideas which have shaped our understanding of the forces and processes at work within stars and galaxies. Prof. Lynden-Bell, professor emeritus of astrophysics at the University of Cambridge’s Institute of Astronomy of which he was both a founder and director, has developed profound theoretical insights relating to numerous aspects of astronomy, including black holes, formation of galaxies, dark matter, astrophysical jets and relativity. His first major contribution dates back to 1962 when he and his colleagues put forward the theory that our galaxy originated from the collapse of a single large gas cloud. He is a former president of the Royal Astronomical Society, a Fellow of the Royal Society and was appointed Commander of the British Empire in 2000. Asteroid 18235 is named after him.

Prof. Walter Mischel is a pioneering psychologist whose innovative studies have revolutionized personality theory and social psychology and contributed to the integration of psychology with other disciplines. The Robert Johnston Niven Professor of Psychology at Columbia University, Prof. Mischel is the author of a number of landmark contributions which have redefined conventional psychological paradigms and profoundly impacted several areas of psychological research. His 1968 monograph Personality and Assessment, today considered the most influential work in personality psychology in the second half of the twentieth century, focused on the crucial interaction between trait and situation in determining human behavior. The former president of the Association for Psychological Science and of the Association for Research in Personality, Prof. Mischel has served as editor of the prestigious Psychological Review.

Prof. Peter A. Diamond is a world-leading economic theorist. An Institute Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Prof. Diamond has made unparalleled contributions to the analysis of modern public finance and, in particular, to the understanding of the functioning of economies with incomplete and imperfect markets. He is a former president of the American Econometric Society, the American Economic Association and the National Academy of Social Insurance, and is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.

Prof. Peter Sarnak is an eminent mathematician and an eloquent ambassador of science whose pioneering research and ability to apply his wide-ranging knowledge to numerous fields render him one of the most influential figures in modern mathematics today. Prof. Sarnak, the Eugene Higgins Professor of Mathematics at Princeton University and professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, has made seminal contributions to number theory, the theory of automorphic forms and the spectral theory of surfaces. His trademark broad vision and intellectual prowess have led him to develop innovative applications in a variety of associated fields, notably the construction of expander graphs which are of fundamental significance in computer science. He is director of the celebrated mathematics lecture series Midrasha Mathematicae at the Hebrew University’s Institute for Advanced Studies, and is a clear voice in opposing any attempts to boycott Israeli academia.

Ira Lee Sorkin is a distinguished attorney, a longstanding friend of the Hebrew University, and a devoted leader of its American Friends organization. A partner in the law firm of Dickstein Shapiro, Ira Lee Sorkin is a former director of the New York office of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission and a former deputy chief of the Criminal Division of the United States Attorney’s Office in Manhattan, New York. He is a prominent civic and philanthropic leader whose commitment is also reflected in his involvement in a wide range of causes in the Jewish and non-Jewish communities. He is a charter member of the United States Holocaust Museum, a member of the Executive Committee of the Lawyers Division of the UJA-Federation, and a governor of the Hebrew University.

Prof. Peter Brown is one of today’s greatest historians, who has irrevocably changed the agenda of historical research through his establishment of Late Antiquity as a distinct and crucial period within which vast sweeps of territory and chronology gain conceptual coherence. Prof. Brown, the Philip and Beulah Rollins Professor of History at Princeton University, has contributed extraordinary new perspectives to our understanding of the last years of the Roman Empire, the spread of Christianity, and the emergence of the three monotheistic religions by observing them as a single chronological unit.

Ronit Matalon is a foremost Israeli author of the past twenty years and one of Israel’s most prominent women writers. Her multifaceted literary work is characterized by a unique narrative approach that shifts from one novel to the next. She is a well-known critic and essayist and frequently speaks out on social, political and literary issues. She is currently a faculty member in the Department of Hebrew and Comparative Literature at Haifa University. Her book, One Facing Us, was listed as one of the 100 best books published in the U.S. in 2009.

During the ceremony, the Bublick and Rothberg Prizes will also be awarded. This year's recipients are Avi Naor and Dr. Nigist Mengesha respectively. 346 students will also receive their Ph.D.s at the convocation ceremony.

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