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Campus News

UAlbany Center for Jewish Studies Honors Philanthropist

By Yoel Hirschfeld (October 8, 2004)

Michael Steinhardt was awarded the Medallion of the University, the University at Albany's highest honor.

Michael Steinhardt was awarded the Medallion of the University, the University at Albany's highest honor.

The University at Albany awarded philanthropist Michael Steinhardt the Medallion of the University, the institution’s highest honor, at the 2004 Center for Jewish Studies celebration on September 22 at The Riverview in Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y. The award recognizes Steinhardt’s distinguished leadership in the Jewish community, extraordinary commitment to perpetuating Jewish life, and innovative approaches to education.

UAlbany Interim President John R. Ryan presented the medallion to Steinhardt.

“Honoring Michael Steinhardt marks an important moment in the development of the Center for Jewish Studies at the University at Albany,” Ryan said. “His interests and passions bridge the worlds of the private sector and the study and promotion of Jewish life and culture. We’re pleased to welcome him to the celebration and to our University community.”

“This is a great opportunity to celebrate one of the most spectacular Jewish leaders of our day,” said Center for Jewish Studies Director Mark A. Raider. “Mr. Steinhardt continues the tradition of philanthropic leadership that has been a hallmark of American Jewish life since Jews first set foot on America’s shores 350 years ago.”

“I am delighted to show my support for the Center for Jewish Studies at UAlbany,” said Steinhardt. “As the only initiative of its kind in New York public higher education, the center plugs a significant gap in Jewish studies at the college level. I applaud UAlbany’s leadership and efforts to make this first-rate Jewish studies program available to all New Yorkers.”

Steinhardt was joined by Israel Singer, chairman of the World Jewish Congress and chair of the event’s honorary committee.

A celebrated money manager turned philanthropist, Steinhardt is dedicated to creating a renaissance in American Jewish life. After graduating from the Wharton School of Business in 1960, he began his financial career as a research associate and securities analyst. In 1967 he formed the highly successful hedge fund company Steinhardt Partners L.P. In 1995, he stunned the financial world by announcing that he would close the fund to devote his time and fortune to causes of the Jewish world.

Today Steinhardt coordinates his philanthropic activities through numerous initiatives, including the Jewish Life Network; the Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education; Makor, a social and cultural center on New York City’s Upper West Side; Synagogue Transformation and Renewal (STAR); and Birthright Israel.

Steinhardt also supports Hillel, the Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, through which he created the Steinhardt Jewish Campus Services Corps, the world’s only paid fellowship program for young Jews dedicated to one year of service in the Jewish campus community.

Steinhardt is one of the principal investors behind The New York Sun, New York’s newest daily newspaper.

In 2001, Steinhardt published his memoirs, No Bull: My Life In and Out of the Markets (John Wiley & Sons).

The Center for Jewish Studies has raised more than $1 million in private sector pledges and gifts toward its endowment and the establishment of a new professorship in European Jewish Studies, with expertise in the Holocaust.