Nov 19, 2007 — Dr. Scott S. Cowen, president of Tulane University in New Orleans, will be the keynote speaker at Yeshiva University’s 83rd Annual Hanukkah Dinner and Convocation on Sunday, Dec. 9 at the Waldorf=Astoria.
YU President Richard M. Joel will confer the honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree on Dr. Cowen as well as Dr. Henry Kressel, managing director at the private equity firm of Warburg Pincus; philanthropist Mary Smart; real estate developer Samuel G. Weinberg; and philanthropist Elizabeth Wilf.
The convocation and dinner will be the culmination of a weekend devoted to YU activities at five major Manhattan synagogues: Congregation Ohab Zedek, the Jewish Center, Lincoln Square Synagogue, West Side Institutional Synagogue, and Young Israel of the West Side. President Joel, along with Rabbi Jacob J. Schacter, university professor of Jewish history and Jewish thought and senior scholar at the Center for the Jewish Future (CJF) at YU; David Pelcovitz, PhD, Gwendolyn and Joseph Straus Professor of Jewish Education at YU’s Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration; and Rabbi Ari Berman, spiritual leader of the Jewish Center, will be speaking on Hanukkah-related topics. For a complete schedule, visit the Hanukkah dinner website.
Dr. Scott S. Cowen was appointed Tulane University’s president in 1998 and holds joint appointments as the Seymour S. Goodman Memorial Professor of Business at Tulane’s A.B. Freeman School of Business, and Professor of Economics in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
Tulane’s students, staff, and faculty were dispersed throughout the country after the university suffered serious flood damage from Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The campus was repaired and 87 percent of its students returned for classes in January 2006.
In response to Katrina, Dr. Cowen was appointed to the city’s Bring Back New Orleans Commission by Mayor Ray Nagin. In this capacity he leads a committee charged with reforming and rebuilding New Orleans public schools. Part of this effort includes a K-12 charter school run by Tulane. Dr. Cowen also serves as a commissioner of the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority, a key post-Katrina effort aimed at rebuilding Orleans Parish.
Prior to his Tulane presidency, Dr. Cowen served as professor and then a dean at Case Western Reserve University. He is the author of four books and scores of academic and professional articles, and has won numerous national awards. He has also held educational leadership positions with the American Council on Education, the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, and the National College Athletic Association.
Dr. Henry Kressel is a managing director at Warburg Pincus, LLC, an international private equity firm. Dr. Kressel’s current area of focus is on telecommunications and information technology investments. A Yeshiva College alumnus, he is a member of the YU Board of Trustees, the Board of Directors of YU’s Sy Syms School of Business, and chairman of the YU Academic Affairs Committee. Prior to his investment career, Dr. Kressel headed electronics research for the RCA Corporation at the David Sarnoff Research Center. He holds 31 US patents and is widely published. Dr. Kressel was elected to the National Academy of Engineering.
Dr. Kressel and his wife, Bertha, a graduate of YU’s former Brooklyn Girls High School and Teachers Institute for Women, established the Bertha and Henry Kressel Foundation in 2003, which supports higher education and Jewish organizations.
Mary Smart has been a member of the Yeshiva University Museum Board of Directors for 11 years. Through the Smart Family Foundation, Mrs. Smart is a strong supporter of the museum and its goals. Mrs. Smart’s other organizational affiliations reflect her deep concern for education, the environment, medical research, and Jewish culture.
Born in Chicago but a long-time New Yorker, Mrs. Smart is part of a family that has contributed greatly to American culture. Her father and uncles founded Esquire magazine, Coronet Films–the leading producer of educational and training films during the Cold War–and the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago, which promotes understanding of the visual arts and their importance in human history.
Samuel G. Weinberg, founder and president of Weinberg Properties, a real estate development firm in New York City, serves in several capacities at YU’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine. As a member of the Board of Overseers and the Executive Committee, Mr. Weinberg invests countless hours working with the medical college in leadership roles. As chair of the Building Committee, he is an expert advisor on construction and budget management for many of the college’s ongoing building and development projects, including overseeing the recent completion of the Michael F. Price Center for Genetic and Translational Medicine/Harold and Muriel Block Research Pavilion, a $200-million, 200,000-square foot state-of-the-art medical research facility on the Jack and Pearl Resnick Campus.
A recipient of the Einstein Humanitarian Award in 2005, Mr. Weinberg–along with his wife, Kathy, an active member of the Einstein Women’s Division National Board–look upon their involvement with Einstein as a labor of love. In 2000, Mrs. Weinberg was honored by Einstein for her service to the institution and to the community.
Elizabeth (Suzie) Wilf, along with her husband, Joseph, is an ardent supporter of YU. In 2002, in recognition of a magnanimous gift, YU’s Washington Heights campus was renamed the Wilf Campus in their honor. Mrs. Wilf is a member of YU’s Stern College for Women Board of Directors.
Born in Lvov (Poland), Mrs. Wilf survived the city’s German occupation and the Holocaust. She and Mr. Wilf were married in 1949 and came to the United States the following year. They have two children and nine grandchildren.
In addition to YU, Mrs. Wilf’s philanthropic activities include the Yad Vashem Museum in Jerusalem and the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York.
Joseph Wilf will serve as this year’s convocation chairman and Dr. Felix L. Glaubach will serve as dinner chairman. The Scroll of Honor chairmen are Jack A. Belz and David I. Schachne, and Ruth Madoff will serve as the arrangements chairwoman.