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News Release


Edgar M. Bronfman Sr. Honored by UAlbany's Center for Jewish Studies

Contact: Karl Luntta (518) 437-4980

ALBANY, N.Y. (May 30, 2003) -- The University at Albany will honor philanthropist and World Jewish Congress President Edgar M. Bronfman Sr. at a Center for Jewish Studies celebration on Tuesday, June 3, 2003 at 6 p.m., at The Riverview in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York.

UAlbany President Karen R. Hitchcock will award Bronfman the Medallion of the University, the institutionís highest honor, for his distinguished leadership of the Jewish community and commitment to perpetuating Jewish life and a better world. Bronfman, who will address the gathering, will be joined by Robert L. King, chancellor of the State University of New York. New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver serves as chair of the eventís honorary committee.

Bronfman is president of the World Jewish Congress, an international federation of Jewish communities and organizations whose primary goal is to preserve and foster the worldwide unity of the Jewish people and to protect and nourish their spiritual, cultural and social heritage. He is also the president of the World Jewish Restitution Organization, which is devoted to ensuring the return of communal Jewish property that was stolen from Jewish communities during World War II. Bronfman also chairs the Foundation for Jewish Campus Life (Hillel), a worldwide organization uniting Jewish students on college and university campuses. His philanthropic and civic activities include serving as chairman of both The Samuel Bronfman Foundation and the United States Commission on Holocaust Era Assets.

In 1951, Bronfman joined Distillers Corporation-Seagrams Limited (renamed The Seagram Company Ltd. in 1975). He became president of Distillers Corporation-Seagrams Limited in 1971 and chairman in 1975. In 1994, he relinquished the position of chief executive officer to his son, Edgar Bronfman Jr. The senior Bronfman served as chairman of the Seagram Company Ltd. until its merger into Vivendi Universal in 2000.

In 1999, President Clinton awarded Bronfman the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United Statesí highest civilian honor. That same year, Bronfman received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters form the University of Rochester. He also has received honorary degrees from New York University, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Pace University, Tulane University and Williams College. Bronfman was awarded the Chevalier de la Legion DíHonneur by the government of France, as well as the Justice Louis D. Brandeis Award of the 85th National Convention of the Zionist Organization of America.

UAlbany, with more 17,000 students, hosts the ninth largest concentration of Jewish students on any college campus in the country. The Universityís Center for Jewish Studies draws on an Advisory Board comprising Capital Region leaders, alumni and supporters from across the state. To date, the center has raised approximately $1.25 million in private sector pledges and gifts toward endowing the center and creating a new professorship in European Jewish studies, with expertise in the Holocaust.

Reservations for the ceremony, which includes cocktails and dinner, are limited and available to the community on a first come, first served basis. The event is free of charge and is being sponsored and underwritten by Bernard D. Arbit, a UAlbany alumnus and member of the Jewish Studies Advisory Board. Complimentary bus transportation to and from the event will originate from the UAlbany campus. For reservations, schedules and more information contact Yoel Hirschfeld at the Center for Jewish Studies, (518) 591-8514.

Established in 1844 and designated a center of the State University of New York in 1962, the University at Albany's broad mission of excellence in undergraduate and graduate education, research and public service engages 17,000 diverse students in eight degree-granting schools and colleges. The University is engaged in a $500 million fundraising campaign, the most ambitious in its history, with the goal of placing it among the nation's top 30 public research universities by the end of the decade. For more information about this nationally ranked University, visit

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