Deborah E. Lipstadt, MA’72, PhD’76, will deliver address at Brandeis’ 68th Commencement

Lipstadt and six other distinguished individuals will be awarded honorary degrees

honorary degree recipients collage

From left to right, first row: Jon Landau, Susan Winham-Bannister, Cixin Liu, second row: Barbara Mandel, Deborah Lipstadt, third row: Perry Traquina, Rivka Carmi

Historian and author Deborah E. Lipstadt, MA’72, PhD’76, will deliver the Commencement address at Brandeis University’s 68th Commencement on Sunday, May 19. Lipstadt and six other distinguished individuals will be awarded honorary degrees at the ceremony in the Gosman Sports and Convocation Center.

Brandeis’ other honorary degree recipients will be Rivka Carmi, pediatrician, neonatologist, medical geneticist, and former president of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev; Jon Landau ’68, music executive, writer, and visionary; Chinese novelist Cixin Liu; philanthropist Barbara Mandel, P’73; financier and former Brandeis Board of Trustees chair Perry Traquina ’78; and Susan Windham-Bannister, PhD’77, innovation executive, and the former president and CEO of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center.

“Our honorary degree recipients have all distinguished themselves through their lifetimes of groundbreaking achievements,” Brandeis President Ron Liebowitz said. “Their accomplishments stretch across the academy, the arts and sciences, and the business world, providing sources of inspiration for all our degree recipients.”

Liebowitz described Lipstadt as “one of the world’s foremost authorities on the Holocaust, who has fearlessly defended her research in the face of fierce challenges by deniers. At a time when facts are under attack as never before, we know that Deborah’s words will inspire the Class of 2019 to put the critical thinking skills and relentless penchant for questioning they developed as Brandeis students to work in the wider world.”

Lipstadt, the Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish History and Holocaust Studies at Emory University, writes powerfully on the Holocaust and contemporary Jewish life.

Deborah Lipstadt
Photo: Osnat Perelshtein

2019 Commencement speaker Deborah E. Lipstadt, MA’72, PhD’76

In her book “History on Trial” (2005), she chronicled the London courtroom battle that erupted when English author David Irving filed a libel suit against her in the United Kingdom for having called him a Holocaust denier. After a 10-week trial, Irving lost his case, and the proceedings exposed the true depth of his association with neo-Nazi groups. “History on Trial” became the basis for the critically acclaimed 2016 feature film “Denial,” starring Rachel Weisz.

Lipstadt’s recent work, particularly her book “Antisemitism: Here and Now” (2019), continues to warn the world about the ever-present danger of antisemitic hatred and violence.

She founded the Institute for Jewish Studies at Emory, serving as its first director from 1998-2008, and directs 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.

Lipstadt was a historical consultant to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and helped design the section of the museum focused on the American response to the Holocaust.

The Jewish Council for Public Affairs has awarded her its highest honor, the Albert D. Chernin Award, given to “an American Jew whose work best exemplifies the social justice imperatives of Judaism, Jewish history, and the protection of the Bill of Rights.” Lipstadt will receive a Doctor of Humane Letters honorary degree from Brandeis.

Rivka Carmi will receive a Doctor of Science honorary degree. She was president of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev from 2006-18, the first woman to serve as president at an Israeli university. A pediatrician, neonatologist, and medical geneticist, she conducted research focused on genetic diseases in the Negev Arab-Bedouin population.

Jon Landau will receive a Doctor of Music honorary degree. As a history major at Brandeis, Landau was already writing music criticism for national publications like Crawdaddy and Rolling Stone. In 1975, he produced the landmark Bruce Springsteen album “Born to Run” and has been the singer’s manager for four decades. He is chair of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s nominating committee.

Cixin Liu will receive a Doctor of Arts honorary degree. The author of seven novels and a number of short stories, Liu has won the Galaxy Award, China’s most prestigious literary science-fiction award, nine times. The English translation of Liu’s most famous work, “The Three-Body Problem,” won the Hugo Award for best novel; Liu is the first Asian to receive the prize.

Barbara Mandel will receive a Doctor of Humane Letters honorary degree. She 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. Her leadership within national and international organizations is wide-ranging, and she has received numerous national and international awards.

Perry Traquina will receive a Doctor of Humane Letters honorary degree. In 2014, he stepped down as chairman and CEO of Wellington Management Company after a 34-year career at the investment management firm. A member of the Brandeis University Board of Trustees since 2002, he served as board chair from 2013-16. He is currently chair of the board’s Investment Committee and a member of its Resources committee.

Susan Windham-Bannister will receive a Doctor of Humane Letters honorary degree. Windham-Bannister, managing partner of Biomedical Innovation Advisors, is an internationally recognized expert in innovation, market access, and market optimization strategies. She also serves as president and CEO of Biomedical Growth Strategies. From 2008-15, she was president and CEO of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, a state-funded investment organization charged with administering a $1 billion life sciences-focused innovation fund.

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