Honors, AI, and Bumblebees: The 2019 Technion BOG Had it All

July 12, 2019
Jennifer Frey

iTechnion: identify, invent, and inspire was the theme of the recent Board of Governors (BOG) meeting. And there was plenty of “i” to go around! Identified for their commitment and generosity to the Technion, several supporters were awarded honorary degrees. Faculty members were recognized for their ingenious inventions. And the five-day event, from June 15-19, offered inspiring discussions on topics ranging from STEM education to the future of Israeli high-tech.

Eleanor Jackier while presented with the Key to the Technion

The BOG is always an international ingathering, but this year’s meeting was especially important for the American Technion Society. Detroit leader Larry Jackier completed his 12th and final year as BOG Chairman while Scott Leemaster, another Detroiter and one of our own past ATS National Presidents, stepped into his shoes. Larry’s family, friends, and supporters gathered for a festive farewell party on campus with toasts by dignitaries such as former Technion President Yitzhak Apeloig. Larry’s wife, Eleanor, was presented the Key to the Technion for her support throughout the years. Click here to view a video honoring Larry and Eleanor Jackier.

The Allen and Jewel Prince Auditorium

Other ATS friends and supporters also held the spotlight. Allen and Jewel Prince inaugurated an auditorium in the newly renovated visitors center. The Allen and Jewel Prince Auditorium provides a larger, upgraded facility for the David and Janet Polak Visitors Center, the Technion’s welcoming mat for some 10,000 annual visitors. And Jamie Gertler spoke over lunch about the importance of artificial intelligence to our fast-moving, digital society. He and his brother Eric recently provided a generous gift through The Zuckerman Institute to boost AI projects at the Technion.

ATS-donor sponsored awards inspire excellence and are key to the Technion’s success. Among the various awards and recipients were:

  •       Assistant Professor Yoav Shechtman, a Zuckerman STEM Leadership Fellow, honored with the Uzi and Michal Halevy Innovative Applied Engineering Award and Research Grants for his work on super-resolution microscopy
  •       Professor Oded Beja, whose underwater solar-generating discovery earned him the Henry Taub Prizes for Academic Excellence

Other highlights of the BOG were the Technion Honorary Doctorate and Technion Honorary Fellowship awards ceremonies, in which select Technion supporters were applauded for their contributions. “Our laureates don’t shy away from asking many important questions and seeking satisfying answers to them,” said President Peretz Lavie, addressing the honorary doctorates. “They dare to think outside the box and to challenge prevailing traditions.” The ATS was well represented among honorees from societies around the world.

Carol B. Epstein received an honorary doctorate for her inspired leadership and life-long commitment to the Technion and Israel. A second-generation ATS leader, Carol served as president in Washington, D.C., where she was key in transforming the local society into a prominent community. She also serves on the National Board and the BOG. A Technion Guardian, a designation for those whose support reaches the highest levels, Carol has funded graduate dormitories, projects in biotechnology and food engineering, and the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Technion–Cornell Institute on the Cornell Tech campus in New York City.

The ATS supporters who received Technion Honorary Fellowships:

Mitch Julis was honored for his devotion to the Technion, Israel, and Jewish life. Co-Founder of Canyon Partners, he is a pillar of the Los Angeles Jewish community, and has helped connect its philanthropic world with ATS leaders. He has served on the National Board and is a Technion Guardian whose support includes funding for master’s and postdoctoral fellowships, and water and cancer research. Mitch also champions the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Technion–Cornell Institute at Cornell Tech with financial support and hands-on involvement.

Linda Kovan was recognized for her tireless leadership and vision that have boosted support for the Technion in her native Detroit. An enthusiastic Technion ambassador for the past 15 years, Linda chaired the ATS’s first-ever women’s mission to Israel and served as the first female ATS president in Detroit. During her tenure, she revitalized the community by reaching out to new donors and revamping the board.

Eugene and Marlene Shapiro were awarded for their decades of commitment to the Technion and active leadership at all levels. Their ATS involvement started in Chicago, where Eugene, a second-generation supporter, once served as president. Now, in their senior years, they are leaders of the ATS Phoenix community. Eugene has served on the National Board, and both are honorary lifetime members of the Board of Governors and the Board of Regents as well as Technion Guardians.

BOG official business included the very important Assembly vote to approve the appointment of Professor Uri Sivan as the next Technion President. A member of the Faculty of Physics, Prof. Sivan has held many senior positions at the Technion and on a national level in Israel. He is the founding director of the Russell Berrie Nanotechnology Research Institute, which he headed from 2005-2010, and a co-creator of the Nano Bible. His term will begin on October 1, 2019, when President Peretz Lavie steps down after serving for 10 years.

Participants who chose to join the festivities before and after the BOG got to travel and learn about technology across many fields including environmental sustainability and defense. The two-day Pre-BOG included visits to Sorek, the world’s largest seawater desalination plant, and to the Palmachim Airbase. Attendees spent a day with prominent Technion professors in the ancient Mediterranean port city of Caesarea, and met alumni with high-tech companies in surgical laparoscopy, AI-enabled wearable ultrasound, food customization, and more. In the evenings, participants celebrated Larry Jackier with a dinner at the Tel Aviv home of alumnus Rafi Mehudar, a pioneer in Israel’s renowned drip irrigation, and dined in total darkness at Jaffa’s BlackOut Restaurant, designed to promote understanding of blind and deaf individuals.

Post-BOG participants attended a presentation by graduate Eyal Waldman, founder and CEO of Mellanox Technologies. The trip closed with a tour of The Gilboa Wind Farm and Sde Eliyahu, an organic kibbutz that breeds bumblebees and beneficial insects for pollination and pest control.

View our Facebook album for more photos of the BOG.