BOG 2017 : The Embodiment of Excellence: Our Honorary Doctorate Recipients

With the golden glow of the city of Jerusalem in the background, the Hebrew University conferred Honorary Doctorate degrees on outstanding individuals from around the world – men and women whose words and deeds have garnered them international acclaim. After Chairman of the Board of Governors Michael Federmann opened the impressive ceremony, University President Prof. Menahem Ben-Sasson and Rector Prof. Asher Cohen formally presented the recipients with their official degree and draped them in the formal academic hood.

Just two days before he was awarded the prestigious Man Booker International prize, Israeli author David Grossman responded on behalf of the honorees. “There is no end to mankind’s possibilities and achievements”, he said, speaking first about writers and writing and then about the challenges the State of Israel faces 50 years after the Six-Day War.

“I’ll carry this award like a badge of honor for the rest of my life”, said Guest of Honor Angel Gurria, Secretary General of the OECD. “It will be a source of an even stronger commitment to design, to develop and deliver better policies for better lives for Israel and the world.”

Earlier in the day in a more informal setting, Rector Prof. Asher Cohen invited the honorees to share their thoughts with members of the Board of Governors in the audience. “You embody everything we hold dear,” he told them. “We are privileged by your presence.”


Philippe Amon is Chairman of the Board and CEO of SICPA and an active member of the Board of Governors of the Swiss Friends. Reflecting on the University’s founding, he noted that “when it was first conceived early in the 20th century, it was called the Hebrew University, reflecting the values of our people before they became Jews.” He praised the University’s commitment to building a bridge between the past and the future, fostering humanistic values, not just those of one country.


Prof. Dr. Christophe Engel, Co-Director of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods in Bonn, Germany, enjoys a longstanding professional and personal relationship with the Hebrew University.” As a scholar and as a student, I understood life and learning are always about taking a risk.”


Prof. Francois Englert of Belgium is a world-renowned theoretical physicist, who received the 2013 Nobel Prize for his groundbreaking research and subsequent discoveries. “Being here brings back cherished memories of many collaborations with valued colleagues. This university combines top level quality in fundamental research with empathy for human relationships.”


Prof. Julia Kristeva of France has made innovative interdisciplinary contributions in philosophy, linguistics, psychoanalysis and feminist theory that have had a significant impact on the Humanities and Social Sciences. “The humanities continue to examine and question our conception of the human, she said, especially with the disturbing resurgence of radical evil.”


Nilly Sikorsky recently moved to Israel from Switzerland where she served as President of the Swiss Friends and President of the European Friends of the Hebrew University,

“I view philanthropy as fulfilling a sense of justice,” she said. “There is no question in my mind that education will be the main factor leading to Peace.”

To see all the pictures : Convocation, 11 June 2017, Rothberg Amphitheater, Photos by Bruno Charbit and Photos by Miriam Alster