NEW YORK (Press Release) — University of Haifa on Monday conferred honorary doctorates on President Bill Clinton and New York University (NYU) President Emeritus John Sexton at the NYU campus.

President Bill Clinton addresses an audience at NYU following his honorary doctorates from University of Haifa. Credit: University of Haifa.

The University honored Clinton for his commitment to the State of Israel over the years, from promoting coexistence in the Middle East to his close friendship with the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, and the Clinton Global Initiative’s worldwide activity on social and economic sustainability. Sexton received the highest honor for his pioneering vision for higher education and for transforming NYU into the world’s first Global Network University.

“I’m deeply humbled to receive this honorary degree from the University of Haifa,” said President Bill Clinton. “I treasure my friendship with the people of Israel and the opportunities I’ve had to work with them toward a future of peace, security, tolerance, and prosperity for all. This honor is very meaningful to me.”

Clinton also spoke of his friendship and admiration for Sexton, saying that he “never saw him once without a song in his heart and a smile on his face.”

“I thank him for always trying to bring out the best in people, for never believing the worst even when the rest of us demonstrate it, and for reminding all of us that a day spent in anger and resentment is a day wasted; a day spent beginning again is always full of hope,” Clinton said.

Sexton praised University of Haifa for how it “embraces building bridges across difference.”

“I accept [this honor] on behalf of the common enterprise of men and women who created what has happened here [at NYU],” he said, as well as on behalf of his late wife Lisa E. Goldberg, who would tell him, “Honey, this is good, go forward, build bridges.”

He added, “I’m blessed to share any ceremony…with President Clinton, who I view as the first citizen of an integrated global humankind.”

The honorary doctorates for Clinton and Sexton align strongly with multiple cornerstones of University of Haifa’s mission. In the realm of shared society, University of Haifa has long been a place where Jews, Muslims, Christians, Druze, international students, and security personnel study and socialize together in an atmosphere of tolerance and respect on campus.

University of Haifa is also committed to promoting the UN Sustainable Development Goals which includes a trilateral agreement with the UAE and Germany on joint research on climate change and pollution in the Gulf.

“We have taken that adage of think globally and act locally, and we have turned it on its head,” said University of Haifa President Prof. Ron Robin, noting the University’s partnerships with higher education institutions around the world.

Robin said that University of Haifa’s campuses straddle three “natural laboratories” — mountain, city, and sea.

“I know we all think that we reside on planet earth, but in truth we are marooned on planet water,” he said, explaining that the Mediterranean Sea is Israel’s source of energy and protein, as well as 80% of its potable water.

He also emphasized the University’s goal to “create a new pluralistic and inclusive Israeli middle class that will rise to the environmental and human challenges of the region and the world.”

“Building a shared society, creating global networks, are really the only ways to face the environmental, social, and health crises that face us all — and we are well-positioned,” said Robin.


Preceding provided by University of Haifa

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