The “Brown Bear” is the highest honor awarded by the Alumni Association in recognition for many years of volunteer work to distinguished graduates of one of America’s most venerated Ivy League institutions.
Among the other luminaries on this short and distinguished list of previous honorees are; John D. Rockefeller, former Chairman of Chase Bank and founder of the Rockefeller Center; Former New York Public Library Chairman, Richard B. Saloman; Lyman Bloomingdale, Former IBM Chairman, Thomas Watson, and Alva Way, the former chairman of American Express and Travelers Corporation.
“Brown University provided me the foundation and framework I needed to reach my potential as a businessman, philanthropist and volunteer— and as importantly — as a man who could help other people to do the same,” said Elie Hirschfeld.
“I consider it my duty … and privilege to give back to this school which has produced some of the finest American businessmen, philanthropists and volunteers in our history.”
In addition to providing years of financial and other support to his alma mater, The celebrated real estate mogul, philanthropist, athlete and patron of the arts has had a significant hand in the development and re-purposing of many prominent city properties including Riverside South, The Grand Sutton, Park Avenue Court, The Hotel Pennsylvania and The Exchange Tower.
But Hirschfeld’s focus has always extended far beyond any single project. His visionary collaborations with such prominent partners as Silverstein Properties, The Zeckendorf Organization, The Donald Trump Organization and others have yielded some of the more spectacular projects in the history of the city.
And while his business accomplishments are many, it may be his seemingly endless charitable endeavors that may be his most lasting legacy. He launched the Hirschfeld Foundation to channel his philanthropic efforts in support of education, healthcare, athletics and Jewish causes.
“My personal history of giving began when I was a student at Brown University,” Hirschfeld says.
“I became President of Brown’s Hillel and was elected President of my Senior Class. I was inspired by both Brown and Hillel to do more for others and to seek to improve the world. I went on to support numerous educational institutions, hospitals, Jewish organizations, and other non-profit groups. I created the Hirschfeld Foundation to expand my personal efforts.”
Now those efforts on behalf of Brown and other causes are being recognized by the University he cherishes.