Brandeis honors alumni for professional achievements
Brandeis President Fred Lawrence will present the Alumni Achievement Award to prominent Japanese politician Wakako Hironaka, MA ’64, H ’87, pioneering neuroscientist Eve Marder ’69 and internationally known Jewish religious leader Eric Yoffie ’69 at a ceremony on June 7 during Reunion 2014.
“I am pleased to recognize these three alumni, whose professional achievements in the fields of public service, science and Jewish communal life have contributed greatly to society,” Lawrence said. “As Brandeis alumni, they have brought great distinction to the university, and we are proud to welcome them back to campus to be honored in front of their classmates, family and friends at Reunion.”
The Alumni Achievement Award recognizes alumni who have made distinguished contributions to their professions or chosen fields of endeavor. It represents the highest form of University recognition bestowed exclusively on alumni. The honorees:
Wakako Hironaka, MA ’64, H ’87, served four terms in the Japanese House of Councilors (1986-2010) and was vice chair of the Democratic Party of Japan. She was state minister, director-general of the Environment Agency in 1993-94 and was active in several international environmental organizations. Hironaka has written extensively on education, culture, society and women’s issues. She was a member of the Wien International Scholarship Program’s inaugural class of students, served on the Brandeis Board of Trustees (1992-97), founded the Alumni Club of Japan and received an honorary degree from Brandeis in 1987.
Eve Marder ’69, the Victor and Gwendolyn Beinfield Professor of Neuroscience at Brandeis, is an internationally recognized scientist whose research has yielded important clues to brain function. Marder is one of 14 scientists appointed to the working group for President Barack Obama’s BRAIN (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) Initiative. Marder won the 2013 Neuroscience Prize from the Gruber Foundation. She is past president of the Society for Neuroscience and a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Rabbi Eric Yoffie ’69 served as president of the Union for Reform Judaism, American Judaism’s largest denomination, from 1996-2012. During his tenure, he encouraged greater focus on Jewish text study, prayer and adult literacy; launched movement-wide dialogue programs with Christians and Muslims; promoted closer ties between the United States and Israel; and expanded summer camp programs. Yoffie earlier was executive director of the Association of Reform Zionists of America and led congregations in Lynbrook, N.Y., and Durham, N.C. His writings appear regularly in the Huffington Post, the Jerusalem Post and Haaretz.