Physicist and former rector and president of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem recognized for his scientific contributions and policy work.
The physicist Professor Hanoch Gutfreund has been awarded an honorary doctoral degree from Freie Universität Berlin. Gutfreund is the director of the Albert Einstein Archives at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He also served as rector and president of the university. The honorary degree was presented to him at a ceremony on September 1, 2021. The Department of Physics at Freie Universität conferred the honor upon Gutfreund as a testament to his extraordinary scientific achievements, especially his work on the theory of neural networks. The university noted that their decision was based on Professor Gutfreund’s reputation as a leading expert on the history of the theory of relativity, quantum theory, and statistical physics - a reputation he has earned through his impressive scientific record and his vast network of international contacts. One of his greatest accomplishments in the area of scientific policy was the establishment of an international network to safeguard Albert Einstein’s intellectual property and continue his legacy. In addition, Professor Gutfreund’s extraordinary tenure as rector and president of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem led to significant academic and institutional developments there. He was also responsible for strengthening the university’s ties with other international institutions, including German universities, and in particular with Freie Universität Berlin.
Hanoch Gutfreund received his doctorate in physics from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1966, where he would later serve as rector and president from 1990 to 1997. His research interests include solid-state physics, mechanisms of superconductivity, statistical physics, neural network theory, computational neuroscience, and the history of relativity.
Since 1997, he has been the director of the Albert Einstein Archive at the Hebrew University. He has invested a great deal of time and energy in his work with Albert Einstein’s papers. As part of his work in this area, Gutfreund has examined the social and cultural contexts and conditions connected with knowledge, science, and research. He has published several monographs on various aspects of the history of science. In 2005, he helped organize many important projects in Germany to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Albert Einstein’s death, including the Einstein exhibition in Berlin and the sponsorship of the Einstein Forum in Potsdam.
At the Department of Physics at Freie Universität, Gutfreund assisted physics professor Gerhard Simonsohn in transferring his documentation of historical sources on the persecution of Jewish scientists and scholars at German universities during the Nazi era to Yad Vashem - The World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem.
From left to right::Professor Günter M. Ziegler, President of Freie Universität Berlin, Professor Martin Weinelt, Dean of the Department of Physics at Freie Universität, and Professor Hanoch Gutfreund, former Rector and President of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem