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BGU Confers Honorary Doctorates for Excellence

BGU Confers Honorary Doctorates for Excellence

May 24, 2019

Leadership, Awards & Events, Press Releases

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) conferred honorary doctoral degrees during a ceremony at its 49th Board of Governors Meeting in Beer-Sheva, Israel to three Americans, including former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel B. Shapiro; philanthropist and author Toni Young, and Dr. Jan Low, head of the International Potato Center and an expert on international food security.

At the ceremony, BGU President Prof. Daniel Chamovitz said, “Each of the honorees represents the values of persistence and excellence in the pursuit of the greater good. Their acceptance of an honorary degree from BGU provides us a mirror through which we hope to see a bit of ourselves, and honors our institution and what it stands for.”

Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel B. Shapiro (center); BGU President Prof. Daniel Chamovitz (left); BGU Rector Prof. Chaim Hames (right)

Prof. Chamovitz and BGU’s Rector (provost) Prof. Chaim Hames presented the degree of Doctor Philosophiae Honoris Causa to Ambassador Daniel B. Shapiro, former U.S. ambassador to Israel, “in recognition of an accomplished diplomat who served as the Ambassador of the United States to Israel…with esteem for the key roles he has played in securing military support for Israel and in various negotiations to improve regional relations as a true friend of the State of Israel.” Watch a video about Ambassador Shapiro.

Americans for Ben-Gurion University President Toni Young (center)

Toni Young, Manhattan resident formerly of Wilmington, Delaware, is the president of American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and a member of BGU’s board of governors. She is an accomplished author, an advocate for the arts and literature and a tireless supporter of Israel and the American Jewish community. Her former leadership roles have included service as vice chair of the Jewish Federations of North America; president of the Jewish Federation of Delaware; and board service for the Jewish Agency for Israel and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.

She currently serves on the boards of American Friends of NATAL (assisting Israeli victims of terror and war) and Friends of Bezalel Art Academy. She received her honorary degree “with admiration for a passionate leader and benefactor of the American Jewish community, who generously contributes her time and efforts to a range of public causes at home and abroad, and in appreciation of an individual profoundly committed to strengthening relationships and ties between Jewish Americans and Israelis, especially those in the Negev, through service to multiple organizations.” Watch a video about Toni Young.

Dr. Jan Low (center)

Dr. Jan Low is the head of the International Potato Center and is a leading authority on international food security. Originally from Colorado, she has lived in Kenya for more than 30 years working to alleviate hunger and malnutrition. A Doctor Philosophiae Honoris Causa was conferred “in acknowledgment of an exceptional scientist whose brilliant advances in the field of food security have transformed the lives of millions around the world; with deep regard for an exemplary innovator, whose groundbreaking work in bio-fortification, the breeding of sweet potato varieties rich in vitamins and minerals, has led directly to the alleviation of hunger and the reduction of illness in developing nations, and who has astutely translated her pioneering research into a means of improving the quality and availability of healthy food in numerous African countries.” Watch a video about Dr. Low.


Americans for Ben-Gurion University plays a vital role in maintaining David Ben-Gurion’s vision of an “Oxford in the Negev.” By supporting a world-class academic institution that not only nurtures the Negev, but also shares its expertise locally and globally, Americans for Ben-Gurion University engages a community of Americans who are committed to improving the world. The Americans for Ben-Gurion University movement supports a 21st century unifying vision for Israel by rallying around BGU’s remarkable work and role as an apolitical beacon of light in the Negev desert.

Media Contact:
Andrew Lavin
A. Lavin Communications
[email protected]