Pictured above: The honorary doctorate recipients with BGU President Prof. Daniel Chamovitz and Rector Prof. Chaim Hames


​Eight talented individuals received honorary doctorates from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev on Tuesday evening May 17, 2022, during the 52nd Board of Governors Meeting.

They include one author, one CEO, three philanthropists, one rabbi, one scientist, and one university chancellor from five different countries.

The recipients were: Sylvan Adams, Israel; Rabbi Denise L. Eger, USA; David Grossman, Israel; Timotheus Höttges, Germany; Cyndi and Max Mintzberg, Canada; Prof. Louise Richardson, United Kingdom; and Prof. Nahum Sonenberg, Canada & Israel.

Harold Paisner of the United Kingdom received the President’s Award “in recognition of over 3 decades of commitment, in a completely voluntary capacity, to the University’s vision and success.”

“Our University proudly bears the name of David Ben-Gurion,” Ben-Gurion University President Prof. Daniel Chamovitz said at the ceremony, “and we strive daily to meet the standards set by this great man, to adhere to his values, and to realize his vision. We, who aspire to hold up his values, believe that anything is possible, and work with determination and vision to create a new reality.”

“We bestow this honor upon individuals who exemplify the characteristics that we wish to hold up as inspiration to our students, and as role models for our own community of scientists, scholars and supporters; Individuals for whom excellence is not a buzz-word, but rather, an innate value,” he continued.

“The truth is, they don’t need us to acknowledge their accomplishments – they did not embark on their efforts to be acknowledged. We thank them for allowing us, to honor them. Their acceptance of an honorary degree from BGU, reflects that honor back on to our institution and what it stands for, providing a mirror within which we hope to see a bit of ourselves,” he said.

Rector Prof. Chaim Hames made the case for the centrality and relevance of the humanities in 21st century higher education.

“In a sense, if the humanities want to avoid becoming irrelevant or a “footnote” to STEM, they need to stop being on the defensive, stop trying to justify what it is they do, and engage much more with the public including academics and university administrators who come from other disciplines, and show them the significance, yes, even relevance, of what it is they do. They need to emphasize and show how almost every academic discipline needs to engage with the humanities, both to understand better its own essence, richness, and diversity, and to improve, critique and fine-tune the questions it asks.

“We need to step back from the trees and also see the forest, to see how our work engages with the larger questions that inform what and who we are as human beings and what our responsibilities are to future generations. And here, the humanities have a great role to play and, instead of just being stand-alone disciplines, they need to be far more integrated into the fabric of every teaching program, into the fabric of almost everything we do.

“We are working to achieve that aim here at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev by promoting the study of the humanities as a core part of almost every undergraduate degree program. It is my belief that the “skills” acquired will benefit every student regardless of her subject of choice, will help inculcate a desire for life-long learning and curiosity, and will enrich campus life and our contribution to society at large,” Prof. Hames concluded.

Honorary doctorate recipients in alphabetical order:


Scroll Sylvan Adams.pdf

​​Sylvan Adams, Israel

A Canadian-born businessman, philanthropist and amateur cycling champion, he made Aliya in 2016. Adams previously served as CEO of the Montreal-based real estate firm Iberville Developments and was the sole shareholder of Summit International Bank.

Sylvan aims to show the world what he calls ‘normal Israel’ by presenting the true face of Israel, often negatively portrayed by media, to large audiences around the world. He has promoted this ‘normal Israel’ by bringing world class cultural and sporting events to the country. Adams has famously brought Lionel Messi and the Argentinian National soccer team, Madonna to the Eurovision Song Contest, and the French Super Cup to Tel Aviv. Sylvan was also responsible for initiating and hosting the largest sporting event in the country’s history; the “Grande Partenza” Big Start of the Giro d’Italia. These events brought Israel into the homes of literally billions of television viewers around the world.

He is also the only Israeli signatory to The Giving Pledge.



Scroll Denise L. Eger.pdf

Rabbi Denise L. Eger, USA

She is the founding senior rabbi of Congregation Kol Ami, in West Hollywood, CA. She is past president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the international organization of over 2,300 Reform Rabbis, where she served as the first openly gay or lesbian person in that position. She was also the first woman ever elected president of the Southern California Board of Rabbis which includes Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist and Orthodox Rabbis.

Rabbi Eger is the editor of the groundbreaking book, Mishkan Ga’avah: Where Pride Dwells: A Celebration of LGBTQ Jewish Life and Ritual (CCAR PRESS, 2020). This collection of LGBTQ prayers, poems, liturgy, and rituals is both a spiritual resource and a celebratory affirmation of Jewish diversity. Giving voice to the private and public sectors of queer Jewish experience and allies.



Scroll David Grossman.pdf

​David Grossman, Israel

One of Israel’s foremost authors, David Grossman’s works include novels, novellas, short stories, a play, a children’s opera, non-fiction works, an essay collection and song lyrics. Grossman publishes articles regularly both in Israel and abroad.

His books have been translated into 45 languages and have won many prestigious awards including the Man Booker International Prize and the Israel Prize. They have also been adapted for theater, film, opera, and radio drama.

Scroll Timotheus Höttges.pdf

Timotheus Höttges, Germany

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Deutsche Telekom AG since January 2014. Deutsche Telekom is the largest telecommunications provider in Europe by revenue.

Höttges joined Deutsche Telekom in 2000. He joined the company’s board of directors in 2006 and in 2009 he became finance director rising to CEO in 2014.

Telekom Innovation Laboratories at BGU are the company’s only R&D labs outside of Germany.

Scroll Cyndi and Max Mintzberg.pdf

Cyndi and Max Mintzberg, Canada

Cyndi is a clothing and jewelry designer, who has designed clothing for fashion brands. She has also worked on interior design and architecture projects including one for a Jewish school in Western Canada.

Max is a successful mobile phone entrepreneur, first in Montreal and then in British Columbia in Western Canada.

They are enthusiastic supporters of the University.

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Scroll Louise Richardson.pdf

Prof. Louise Richardson, United Kingdom

Professor Louise Richardson is Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford. She was previously Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of St. Andrews.

A political scientist by training, Professor Richardson is recognised internationally as an expert on terrorism and counter-terrorism. Her publications include Democracy and Counterterrorism: Lessons from the Past (2007), What Terrorists Want: Understanding the Enemy, Containing the Threat (2006), The Roots of Terrorism (2006), and When Allies Differ (1996).

Professor Richardson’s awards include the Sumner Prize for work towards the prevention of war and the establishment of universal peace.

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Scroll Nahum Sonenberg.pdf

Prof. Nahum Sonenberg, Canada & Israel

A McGill University professor, he is a pioneer who shed light on the most fundamental translational control processes of protein synthesis. He was the first to discover the mRNA cap-binding protein responsible for the eukaryotic translation apparatus.

His findings on the role of protein translation in memory and synaptic plasticity opened up a new field in neurobiology and lay the foundation for a better understanding of autism, fragile X syndrome, and processes of learning and memory.

His groundbreaking work on proteins that affect the progress of diseases has led to the development of innovative cancer therapies.


President’s Award

Scroll Harold Paisner.pdf

​Harold Paisner, United Kingdom

A successful lawyer, he is the Senior Partner Emeritus at Berwin Leighton Paisner.

He has served as President of the Ben-Gurion University Foundation in the United Kingdom since 1997.