NEW YORK, June 21, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- AJC has honored Cornell University President David J. Skorton with the global Jewish advocacy organization's prestigious Avraham Harman Leadership Award. Skorton received the award in appreciation of his "inspired leadership in fostering unique U.S.-Israel academic relationships to advance the frontier of human knowledge and understanding."
The award was presented this week at the annual AJC Dorothy and Julius Koppelman Institute on American Jewish – Israeli Relations dinner. Technion President Peretz Lavie delivered the keynote address.
"This year's Harman Award, I believe, is rightly viewed as an award not to me as an individual but to the broader efforts of the American higher education community to engage in constructive partnerships with our counterparts in Israel," said Skorton. "The connections between Cornell University and institutions in Israel are a source of enormous mutual benefit."
Skorton and Cornell University have long maintained that time and again the knowledge-sharing and real-world solutions that spring from collaborations among universities across the globe – in everything from computer science and liberal arts to crop science and food security – benefit the peoples of many countries and in the long run contribute to productive international relations and the betterment of our global community.
Skorton has long interacted with colleagues at Technion and again visited Technion in the summer of 2010 while co-leading an AJC Project Interchange educational seminar for university presidents. "I remain extremely grateful to AJC for that incredible opportunity," said Skorton.
That visit two years ago, and the longstanding academic collaborations between the faculty of Cornell and the Technion, laid the foundation for the winning Cornell-Technion partnership to build in New York City a new applied science and technology campus.
"The partnership with the Technion that you were so instrumental in orchestrating will constitute an even stronger commitment between Israel and the United States, for the greater benefit of our community and for humankind," said Lavie.
The Technion president has long pointed to the strong parallels between the values held by President Skorton and Cornell University and those held by his own university. These parallels, he said, made nearly inevitable the partnership between Cornell University and the Technion, which is recognized by many as a primary driver of Israel's emergence as a world science and technology leader.
Emphasizing the importance of universities collaborating internationally, Skorton said, "Throughout my three-decade-long experience in higher education, I have been convinced of the tremendous potential of higher education to create ties across national boundaries that move us closer to peace, equity and prosperity."
AJC's Avraham Harman Award is given annually to a distinguished individual who has dedicated significant efforts to strengthening ties between American Jews and Israel. The Koppelman Institute is chaired by Harold Shapiro, president emeritus of Princeton University.
"I am especially grateful for the work of AJC and its Koppelman Institute in strengthening the ties between the Jews in this country and the people of Israel—ties that are deeply rooted in a complex and often painful history, and just as deeply intrinsic to a strong and hopeful present and future," said Skorton.
Lavie agreed that "the future of the Jewish people is dependent on the links" between Israel and the American Jewish community.
"I believe that both David and I are fortunate in that our career paths led us to a shared destiny of bridging between Israel and the U.S. and initiating a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation at the heart of New York City."
SOURCE American Jewish Committee