Summer 2001

Honorary Doctorate Conferment Ceremony
Three Hooded in Emotional Ceremony

Like most events at the 29th Board of Governors Meeting, the honorary doctorate conferment ceremony on the evening of June 3 began solemnly with a moment of standing silence for the young victims of a terrorist attack in Tel Aviv that had taken place only two nights previously. Then, following the Rector's remarks, which focused on the role of emotions, he and the University's President went on to hood three of the degree recipients in an atmosphere that ranged in emotions from stolid academe to voice - choking sentiment to what some might have described as stand-up comedy. Two of those conferred with the institution's highest accolade, the honorary doctorate - given to the best in their respective particular fields of endeavor - were unable to come from abroad for the special academic ceremony.

The three who received their doctoral hoods:

Michael W. Davis, a Canadian textile manufacturer with longstanding ties to the University, could not suppress his deep emotion that left him voiceless when in delivering his response, he wished his mother could have been there to have seen him conferred with the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Honoris Causa. He was cited for "leadership in the Jewish community and in the Canadian textile industry; and his loyal friendship, … support, and his many contributions to the University of Haifa as president of the [University of Haifa] Friends Association in Canada and as a member of the University's Board of Governors…."

Leon H. Charney. This New York lawyer, the host a cable TV talk show, has advised U.S. Presidents and Israeli Cabinet Ministers, as well as gone on secret missions that, among other things, helped win the release of "Prisoners of Zion." He has also represented sports and entertainment personalities, and the influence of one of his clients, the American-Jewish comic Jacky Mason, clearly predominated when Charney hilariously described his clandestine meeting with Yasir Arafat in Tunis in 1989 at the behest of Ezer Weizman. His scroll acknowledged "his service to society and the economy and his assistance to institutions of higher education; [and] his contribution to the advancement of peace between Israel and the Palestinians…."

Yehoshua Ben-Arieh. The University showed its esteem to this Israeli geographer "for his scholarly contribution to the creation of the school of historical geographical research of the Land of Israel and his development of this discipline both within academia and outside it; and in token of his valued assistance in the development of the University of Haifa…." Ben-Arieh trained many of this University's geographers, in addition to guiding the department in its initial years on behalf of the Hebrew University, where he spent his career.

The two recipients who were unable to arrive for the conferment ceremony and whose scrolls were read out:

Baron Benjamin de Rothschild. The scion of the French branch of the House of Rothschild was recognized for "his wide-ranging contribution to the development of the State of Israel; …[and] his devoted and continuing support of institutions of higher education and of cultural and welfare enterprises…."

Mikis Theodorakis. The well-known Greek composer was cited for his "multifarious musical contribution as composer and performer; [as well as]… his steadfast struggle against tyranny and his unceasing activity to safeguard human freedom and establish peace…."


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