American Jewish University Announces Commencement Keynote Speaker and Honorary Degree Recipients

April 10, 2019
Contact: Michelle Starkman
(310) 440-1526

American Jewish University Announces Commencement Keynote Speaker and Honorary Degree Recipients

Los Angeles, CA – April 10, 2019 – American Jewish University has announced the commencement speaker and honorary degree recipients for the University’s 69th commencement ceremonies taking place Sunday, May 19, 2019.

This year’s distinguished commencement speaker, who will also be conferred the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa, is Paul Root Wolpe, Ph.D., Director, Center for Ethics, Emory University.  Barbi Weinberg, founder and first president of The Washington Institute, and Marvin I Schotland, president and chief executive officer of the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles, will also be awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa.


Paul Root Wolpe, Ph.D. is the Raymond F. Schinazi Distinguished Research Chair in Jewish Bioethics, a Professor in the Departments of Medicine, Pediatrics, Psychiatry, and Sociology, and the Director of the Center for Ethics at Emory University. Dr. Wolpe moved to Emory University in the summer of 2008 from the University of Pennsylvania, where he was on the faculty for over 20 years in the Departments of Psychiatry, Sociology, and Medical Ethics, and faculty in its Center for Bioethics.

Dr.Wolpe spent 15 years as Senior Bioethicist for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), where he still serves as a bioethical consultant. He is the Editor-in-Chief of the American Journal of Bioethics Neuroscience, and sits on the editorial boards of over a dozen professional journals in medicine and ethics. He is a past President of the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities; incoming President of the Association of Bioethics Program Directors; a Fellow of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, the country’s oldest medical society; a Fellow of the Hastings Center, the oldest bioethics institute in America; and served as the first National Bioethics Advisor to Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

Dr. Wolpe publishes in the fields of sociology, medicine, and bioethics, and has contributed to a variety of encyclopedias on bioethical issues. A futurist interested in social dynamics, Dr. Wolpe’s work focuses on the social, religious, ethical, and ideological impact of medicine and technology on the human condition. Considered one of the founders of the field of neuroethics, which examines the ethical implications of neuroscience, he also writes about other emerging technologies. His teaching and publications range across multiple fields of bioethics and sociology, including death and dying, genetics and eugenics, sexuality and gender, mental health and illness, alternative medicine, and bioethics in extreme environments such as space. He is the co-author of the textbook Sexuality and Gender in Society, and editor and a key author of the end-of-life guide Behoref Hayamim: In the Winter of Life.

Dr. Wolpe sits on a number of national and international non-profit organizational boards and working groups, and is a consultant to academic institutions and the biomedical industry. He has testified twice to the President’s Commission on the Study of Bioethical Issues in Washington, DC. A dynamic and popular speaker internationally, Dr. Wolpe has been chosen by The Teaching Company as a "Superstar Teacher of America" and his courses are distributed internationally on audio and videotape. He has won the World Technology Network Award in Ethics, has been featured in a TED talk, was profiled in the November, 2011 Atlantic Magazine as a

“Brave Thinker of 2011.” Dr. Wolpe is contributor to broadcast and print media, and has been featured on 60 Minutes and with a personal profile in the Science Times of the New York Times.


Barbi Weinberg was the founder and was the first president of The Washington Institute, and now serves as chairman emerita. She is also the first woman to serve as president of a major Jew­ish federation in the United States (Los Angeles, 1975–1978). In 1984 she served on the Olympic Organizing Committee in Los Angeles. Ms. Weinberg has also served in the following leadership roles: vice president of the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles, president of Hadassah, chairman of the Commission on Jewish Future in Los Angeles, member of the Democratic State Central Committee, member of the late Senator Alan Cranston’s presidential advisory committee, national vice president of AIPAC, and executive committee member of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.

She currently serves on the board of governors of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and the national advisory board of the UJA Women’s Division. She is actively involved in the lives of her four married children, twelve grandchildren and the spouses of her nine married grandchildren. She has fourteen great-grandchildren, thus far -- plus one on the way.


Marvin I. Schotland is president and chief executive officer of the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles, the largest central clearinghouse for Jewish philanthropists in Southern California.

Mr. Schotland began his tenure at The Foundation in May 1989 as executive vice president, after having served four years as the executive director of the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Metrowest, New Jersey. He was previously executive director of the Jewish Community Foundation of Southern Arizona for two years. During his tenure at The Foundation, its assets have grown from $90 million to more than $1 billion.

A native of Youngstown, Ohio, Mr. Schotland earned his bachelor's degree and law degree from the University of Cincinnati. He was an assistant attorney general for the state of Ohio and was in private legal practice in Tucson, Arizona specializing in income and estate tax planning. He also has been co-adjunct professor at the University of Arizona and at Rutgers State University.

Completing his term in September 2008, Mr. Schotland served as chair of the Board of Southern California Grantmakers (SCG), a regional membership association representing the full spectrum of the philanthropic community including private independent foundations, family foundations, corporate foundations and giving programs, community foundations, public foundations, private operating foundations and individual philanthropists. He is also a member of the Board of Advisors of the University of Southern California's Center on Philanthropy and Public Policy. He has served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Jewish Funders Network and also serves on the Board of Directors of 40 family foundations. Mr. Schotland and his wife Sandy, have two children and three grandchildren. Under Schotland’s leadership over the past 25 years, The Foundation has distributed $1 billion in grants. Marvin is often quoted in the industry press and has contributed op-eds to Forward and the Jewish Journal on topics such as family philanthropy and Jewish community giving.

American Jewish University (founded in 1947) is a thriving center of Jewish life, built upon the mission of Jewish learning, culture, ethics, leadership and peoplehood. In 2007, the University of Judaism merged with the Brandeis-Bardin Institute, creating a landmark entity - American Jewish University (AJU). With two campuses (in Bel-Air, California and Simi Valley, California) AJU is now one of the largest Jewish institutions in the world. Offering abundant community programming, degree programs and learning experiences, American Jewish University continues to create a distinctive learning environment in which we nurture innovation, incubate new ideas and integrate socially-just values into community life. Learn more at



Contact Communications

Michelle Starkman, M.A., MBA
Vice President, Communications
(310) 440-1526

For urgent media inquiries or reporters on deadline, please contact us at:
(310) 571-8264 or
(310) 739-9489