Cornell Hillel's Board of Trustees has awarded the 2008 Tanner Prize to Irwin '54 and Joan Jacobs '54 and their son and daughter-in-law, Gary and Jerri-Ann Jacobs (parents of Adam Jacobs '08), for their significant contributions to the Jewish people and to Cornell. Irwin Jacobs is the founder of the global wireless and voice data company QUALCOMM Inc.
The prize was presented June 11 at the Cornell Club in New York City.
Cornell Board of Trustees Chairman Emeritus Harold Tanner '52 presented the prize bearing his name, and President David J. Skorton paid tribute to the Jacobs family. "The Jacobs family has demonstrated outstanding commitment to higher education," said Skorton. "By endowing a chair in electrical engineering and providing generous fellowship and scholarship support for the Colleges of Engineering and Human Ecology, Irwin and Joan have helped Cornell lead the way in undergraduate and graduate education. And as parents, Gary and Jerri-Ann are exemplars. Their commitment can be seen in their devotion to Cornell athletics and to Hillel."
The Tanner Prize, established by Cornell Hillel's Board of Trustees in 2004, is awarded annually to a person, couple or family making significant contributions to Jewish life and to Cornell, including, but not necessarily limited to, Cornell Hillel.
"It is an honor for our family to be recognized by this special prize, named for a great friend from our days at Cornell," said Irwin Jacobs. "We are pleased to be associated with visionary Jewish Cornellians who have been previous recipients. And of course the sponsorship by Hillel has extra meaning since it was Cornell Hillel Rabbi Morris Goldfarb who traveled to New York City to officiate at our wedding almost 54 years ago."
Rabbi Ed Rosenthal, executive director of Cornell Hillel, said: "The Jacobs family has demonstrated a commitment to foster Jewish identity and leadership in the next generation. Irwin, Joan, Gary and Jerri-Ann exhibit vast involvement, from supporting the sciences in Israel through the Technion to fostering Muslim-Jewish relations with the Jacobs International Teen Leadership Institute, making them pillars of the Jewish community."
Irwin Jacobs '54, BEE '56, has served on both the Cornell University Council and the Cornell Engineering College Council. Recently, he and his wife established a $30 million scholarship and fellowship endowment for the College of Engineering, in addition to their previous support for Human Ecology, Cornell Engineering and Cornell Hillel initiatives. Irwin and Joan also established the Milton R. Konvitz Memorial Lectureship in American Ideals in the ILR School.
Gary Jacobs has served as president of the United Jewish Federation of San Diego and was instrumental in the construction of San Diego's Jewish Community Center. He also serves as founder and chairman of High Tech High, a public charter school. He and his wife founded the International Teen Leadership Institute, which brings together Jewish American, Jewish Israeli, Arab Israeli and Palestinian teenagers for travel and study.
Tanner, who joined the Cornell Board of Trustees in 1982 and served as its chairman from 1997 to 2002, is a Foremost Benefactor of Cornell and is active with national Jewish organizations. He is president of Tanner & Co., an investment banking firm.