John Adams. John Hancock. George Washington. Benjamin Franklin. Thomas Jefferson. Alexander Hamilton.
This august list includes the founders and early members of one of the nation’s oldest organizations dedicated to the importance of ideas and learning. As of this month, 2013 Case Western Reserve graduate Morton L. Mandel is officially one of their intellectual heirs.
Mandel, a renowned businessman and philanthropist, has received the American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ (AAAS) Scholar-Patriot Award in recognition of his commitment to advancing the ideals that inspired the Academy’s creation in 1780. Previous winners of the Scholar-Patriot award include William T. Golden, a key architect of U.S. science policy in the 20th century; Yo-Yo Ma, a renowned cellist and educator; and Edward M. Kennedy, a longtime U.S. Senator known for his commitment to advancing federal support for education.
“Through his generous support of greater engagement among the Academy’s members, Mort Mandel has unlocked the potential of our distinctive membership,” said Don Randel, chair of the Board of the Academy. “He has taken to a new level our ability to gather leaders from around the world and facilitate discussions of issues, both current and abiding, through which the Academy may advance the common good.”
In 1940, Mandel and his two brothers launched the Premier Automotive Supply Company, which went on to become one of the world’s leading industrial and electronic parts corporations. In 1953 the brothers formed a philanthropy, the Mandel Foundation, which later became the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation. Over the years the organization has supported a broad range of initiatives, including non-profit leadership, Jewish education, the humanities, urban renewal and leadership programs in Israel.
“Mort has demonstrated the extraordinary impact that individuals with a true sense of mission can have on organizations and individuals across the globe,” President Barbara R. Snyder said. “His commitment to learning and leadership inspire legions, and make him deeply deserving of this great honor from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.”
Since its beginnings, the Academy has included individuals who discover knowledge and those who find ways to apply new information and ideas to enhancing society. Past members include renowned Case School of Applied Science professor A.A. Michelson, Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill and Albert Schweitzer. Mandel was elected to the Academy in 2011, and the following year published It’s All About Who, a book of management and leadership advice culled from his experiences in business, philanthropy and life.
In 2013, Mandel received his bachelor’s degree from Case Western Reserve, the institution where he began his undergraduate studies nearly three quarters of a century earlier. Mandel’s stellar academic performance in high school had won a scholarship to what was then called Adelbert College, but he withdrew in his second year to help his brothers launch the business. Then came World War II, and while the army sent Mandel to college courses as part of his training, he did not complete his degree during his time in the military. Then came building the family business and foundation, and later engaging in civic activities in Cleveland, and elsewhere in the United States and Israel.
Mandel ultimately earned his diploma after a review of all of his coursework and his defense of his ‘senior project,’ the book It’s All About Who, with faculty in the Department of Chemistry. He chose to participate in commencement ceremonies with fellow graduates, and graciously accepted rounds of enthusiastic applause.
“[Education] should be valued and treasured,” Mort Mandel said at the time, “because it’s the path to the future for every living soul.”