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Alma G. Gildenhorn - Honorary Degree Recipient

Alma G. Gildenhorn '53

Alma G. Gildenhorn '53For over two decades, Alma G. Gildenhorn ’53 has been one of the University of Maryland’s foremost benefactors and an active participant in many areas of university life.

Her motivation was her gratitude to Maryland for the outstanding education, life and leadership skills that she received as a recipient of a scholarship. Her “gift back to give forward” has informed all of her activism for Maryland.

With her degree from the College of Education, she taught school early in her marriage to Joseph Gildenhorn ’51.

When they re-connected to their alma mater, their first gift was a Regents Scholarship. As they became more involved, their focus was on projects within the College of Arts and Humanities—the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center and the Gildenhorn Institute for Israel Studies. Gildenhorn chaired the campaign for the performing arts center, known as The Clarice. The Recital Hall within the center bears their name and is known as a “jewel box” of the facility for its state-of-the-art design and equipment.

In 2006, the Gildenhorns established the Institute for Israel Studies, again within the College of Arts and Humanities. The institute enjoys a national and international reputation for excellence in its field. Many thought leaders have been hosted by the institute through lectures and publications.

“These gifts demonstrate the Gildenhorns’ savvy leadership as both philanthropists and strategic thinkers who understand that a sound investment in the arts and humanities has great potential to bring increased stature to the entire university,” says Bonnie Thornton Dill, dean of the College of Arts and Humanities.

Gildenhorn serves on the University of Maryland College Park Foundation Board of Trustees. In addition, she has been a co-chair of the university’s last three successful fundraising campaigns: Bold Vision, Bright Future; Great Expectations; and Fearless Ideas.

Community involvement has been extremely important to her throughout her life. The recipient of many awards for community service, she is currently honorary trustee of the Kennedy Center and serves on its Executive Committee; lifetime trustee of the Aspen Institute; commissioner of the National Portrait Gallery; trustee of the Sibley Hospital/Johns Hopkins Medicine Foundation Board, with the Joseph and Alma Gildenhorn Institute for Bone and Joint Health at the hospital; and vice chair of the Fellowship Selection Committee of the Wilson Center.

Gildenhorn received the Tyser Award from the university, and in 2015, she and her husband were the first couple to be inducted into the Alumni Association’s Alumni Hall of Fame.

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