ITHACA, N.Y. -- Cornell Hillel's Board of Trustees has announced that Barbara Friedman '59 will be the first recipient of the Tanner Prize for her significant contributions to the Jewish people and to Cornell University. The prize will be given to Friedman at an honorary luncheon April 21 at the Cornell Club in New York City.
The visionary philanthropist and communal leader Harold Tanner, Cornell Class of 1952, will present the prize bearing his name. Cornell President Jeffrey Lehman, who is a Cornell alumnus of the Class of 1977, will introduce Tanner and pay tribute to him as well.
The Tanner Prize, established by Cornell Hillel's board of trustees, is awarded annually to a person, couple or family who has made significant contributions to both Jewish life anywhere in the world and to Cornell, including, but not necessarily limited to, service to Cornell Hillel.
"Through her tireless leadership, Barbara Friedman has had a profound effect on the lives of Jewish people worldwide and at Cornell University. Barbara epitomizes the criteria for the Tanner Prize, and we could not have found a more deserving first recipient," said Seth M. Siegel, chair of the Cornell Hillel board, who holds both undergraduate and law degrees from Cornell. "Barbara's grace, enthusiasm and dedication are truly remarkable. She is a beloved member of both the Jewish and Cornell communities."
Friedman is a vice-chair of the Cornell Board of Trustees and chairs the board's Membership Committee. She sits on the Academic Affairs and Student Life Committee and was its co-chair from 1999 to 2001. Friedman also is on the Major Gifts Committee for Cornell and has served on the Arts and Sciences Advisory Council as well as the President's Council of Cornell Women. She was the first chair of the Task Force on the Residential Communities Committee. She is a vice-chair of the Weill Cornell Medical College and is on the Joint Advisory Board of the Weill Medical College of Cornell University in Qatar.
Friedman also is a vice-chair of Hebrew Union College and chairs the Nominating Committee as well as co-chairs the Strategic Planning Committee. She was president of the Jewish Braille Institute from 1998 to 2004 and is past chair of CLAL (The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership). She was on the board of UJA-Federation of New York for many years and chaired the philanthropy's Distribution Committee.
Tanner became a member of the Cornell Board of Trustees in 1982 and served as its chairman from 1997 to 2002. He is considered one of Cornell's most successful fund raisers and is a Foremost Benefactor of the university. A longtime member of the American Jewish Committee's (AJC) Board of Governors, Tanner was elected as the organization's national president in 2001 and
served in this capacity until this past June. He also has served as chair of AJC's board and in other key leadership roles at that global Jewish organization. Tanner was the recipient of the AJC's Herbert H. Lehman Human Relations Award in 1995. He also is chairman of Tanner & Co., an investment advisory firm.
"I am delighted to receive this exceptional honor from Cornell Hillel, especially as it is named for my dear friend Harold Tanner," said Friedman. "For a large part of my life, I have dedicated my energies and passions to the betterment of Cornell University and the Jewish people. It is wonderful to now see these two worlds intersect. In accepting this, I hope Cornell students will be inspired by the Tanner Prize to make not-for-profit work and philanthropy an enriching part of their lives as well."
"The Tanner Prize is a great honor for a great Cornellian," said Lehman. "The prize represents the integration of Cornell Hillel into the life and activities of our students, alumni and supporters. It will always be a mark of great achievement, by virtue of its association with the name of Harold Tanner and also by virtue of the quality of its first recipient, Barbara Friedman. Given her significant legacy of contribution both to Cornell and to the Jewish community, she sets an appropriately high standard for the future of the prize."
Hillel is the largest Jewish campus organization in the world. Cornell Hillel is the umbrella organization for Jewish life at Cornell and provides opportunities for Jewish students to explore and celebrate their Jewish identity through its 30 Jewish student union groups representing the spectrum of cultural, social, religious and political Jewish life.