Holocaust historian to speak at 2019 Commencement
Six honorary degrees will also be presented at the ceremony, to take place on May 19.
In an April 2 email to the Brandeis community, University President Ron Liebowitz announced this year’s commencement speaker, alumna Deborah E. Lipstadt MA ’72, PhD ’76. According to an April 2 BrandeisNOW article, six additional honorary degrees will be presented at the Commencement ceremony, which will take place on May 19.
According to Liebowitz’s email, Lipstadt was the 100th person to receive a PhD from the University when she did so in 1976, and remains “one of the best-known historians of the Holocaust.” The Brandeis Commencement 2019 website highlights her best known book, “History on Trial,” which was published in 2005 about the 10-week trial of English author and historian David Irving, who filed a libel suit against her in 1996 after Lipstadt labelled Irving as a Holocaust denier. Ultimately, Irving lost the case and was subsequently exposed for affiliation with neo-Nazi groups following the trial in 2000, according to The Holocaust Denial on Trial website of Emory University’s Tam Institute for Jewish Studies.
Lipstadt’s most recent work is titled “Antisemitism: Here and Now,” which she released this year. The website mentions that Lipstadt will be awarded the Albert D. Chernin Award — the highest honor given by the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. In the email, Liebowitz detailed other impacts Lipstadt has made, including founding the Institute for Jewish Studies at Emory University, where she served as its first director between 1998 and 2008. Lipstadt also continues to direct the Holocaust Denial on Trial website, “which contains transcripts and other materials from the Irving trial as well as scholarly materials that offer answers to frequent claims made by deniers,” per Liebowitz’s email. Additionally, Liebowitz wrote that she worked with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum as a historical consultant. In particular, she helped design the part of the museum about the American response to the Holocaust.
According to the BrandeisNOW article, Rivka Carmi, who is involved in the medical field, will receive a Doctor of Science honorary degree. She was the first woman to serve as the president of an Israeli university at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev between 2006 and 2018.
Brandeis alumnus Jon Landau ’68 will be awarded the Doctor of Music honorary degree for his work in the music industry, per the same article. He produced Bruce Springsteen’s album “Born to Run” in 1975, and continues to be his manager. Landau is also the chair of the nominating committee for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Cixin Liu will receive an honorary degree as a Doctor of Arts. In addition to being the author of many short stories, Liu has written seven novels and has won China’s most prestigious literary science-fiction award, the Galaxy Award. Liu is also the first Asian person to win the Hugo Award for best novel for “The Three-Body Problem.”
The University will award three Doctor of Humane Letters to Barbara Mandel P ’73, Perry Traquina ’78 and Susan Windham-Bannister PhD ’77. According to the BrandeisNOW article, Mandel “was elected to the Brandeis University Board of Trustees in 2005 and is currently a vice chair of the board, a co-chair of the Institutional Advancement Committee, and a member of the Nominating and Governance, and Coordination committees.” Traquina has been a member of the University’s Board of Trustees since 2002, serving as board chair between 2013 and 2016. He now is the chair of the board’s Investment Committee and remains a member of the Resources Committee. Traquina was also chairman and CEO of Wellington Management Company until he stepped down in 2014 after 34 years at the firm. Lastly, Windham-Bannister is a managing partner of Biomedical Innovation Advisors and is president and CEO of Biomedical Growth Strategies. She was president and CEO of Massachusetts Life Sciences Center from 2008 to 2015.