Doctor of Humane Letters
As a young man, Alan Hassenfeld volunteered in a school in an economically disadvantaged neighborhood, and saw the effects of poverty and racism on young people. He knew then that he wanted to be a catalyst for positive change in the world.
Hassenfeld later became the chairman and CEO of his family’s company, Hasbro, which was founded by his immigrant grandfather and great-uncle in 1923. Hasbro became the largest toy-and-entertainment company in the world, creating popular toys and games, including Mr. Potato Head, G.I. Joe and Monopoly. Under Hassenfeld’s leadership, Hasbro grew into a multibillion-dollar global company. Hassenfeld’s success came from encouraging his employees to be innovative and to challenge conventional thinking, an approach that produced new ideas and concepts.
Hassenfeld retired from Hasbro in 2005, after 35 years with the company, and devoted his attention to philanthropy, with a focus on improving the lives of children. He joined his mother, the late Sylvia Hassenfeld, H’98, at the Hassenfeld Family Foundation, and launched Hassenfeld Family Initiatives. Hassenfeld and his family have made significant contributions to improving children’s health through the Hasbro Children’s Hospital, in Rhode Island; the Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone, in Manhattan; and the Hassenfeld Child Health Innovation Institute, at Brown University.
Hassenfeld, who is co-chair of the board of advisors of Brandeis International Business School, in 2014 made a major gift to establish the Hassenfeld Family Innovation Center at Brandeis. The Hassenfeld family has a long history with Brandeis, which started with a donation from Hassenfeld’s grandfather and continued with Sylvia Hassenfeld’s tenure on the university’s Board of Trustees from 1996-2014, during which the family funded the Hassenfeld Foundation Scholarship, and other scholarships and endowments.
Alan Hassenfeld said of his and the Hassenfeld family’s philanthropic work, “I am most proud of where we have brought sunshine when there has been darkness, where we have brought a smile when there were tears.”