Avner will be joined in receiving honorary doctorates by Dr. Alan Willner and Eleazer Hirmes. Willner, a 1982 graduate of Yeshiva College, is a highly decorated physicist, who has published more than 950 papers on his research in optical technologies. Currently a chaired professor of engineering at the Viterbi School of Engineering at the University of Southern California, he holds 24 patents. His research has been supported by institutions such as Cisco, the Department of Defense, Google, Hewlett Packard, Intel, the National Science Foundation and the National Security Agency.
Hirmes’ family relationship with Yeshiva University dates back to the early years of the 20th century, when his father, Rabbi Abraham P. Hirmes, left the Slobatka Yeshiva in Lithuania to pursue his rabbinical ordination at YU-affiliated Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary. Eleazer attended YU High School and graduated from Yeshiva College in 1944. He received an MBA from New York University and spent 60 years practicing as a CPA, becoming a noted philanthropist in the Five Towns of New York. Hirmes and his wife Greta have set up a scholarship fund in honor of his parents.
YU will also confer its Presidential Medallion upon Ethel Orlian, the associate dean of Stern College for Women. Orlian has spent more than 50 years as a student, teacher and administrator at Yeshiva University. A graduate of YU High School and Stern College, she began her YU career as a researcher, but left to live in Israel before returning to Stern in 1979 as the assistant to Karen Bacon, dean of Stern College for Women. Known to generations of Stern College women, she has remained at the college since—serving as assistant dean and academic counselor and teaching chemistry prior to her appointment as associate dean.
“Each of our honorees embodies a different piece of the principles of Yeshiva University, their commitment to the Jewish people, the State of Israel, their hometowns and to the University itself,” said YU President Richard M. Joel. “We hope they inspire our graduates to leave our school for success now, but know they always have a home at YU.”
In all, more than 1,400 undergraduate students from Yeshiva College, Stern College for Women and Sy Syms School of Business, as well as graduate students in the fields of law, medicine, social work, education, Jewish studies and psychology, will be awarded degrees from YU during its commencement season.