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Hon. Joseph B. Gildenhorn - Honorary Degree Recipient

The Honorable Joseph B. Gildenhorn '51

The Honorable Joseph B. Gildenhorn '51

A steadfast friend of the University of Maryland, Joseph B. Gildenhorn ’51 has played an essential part in the establishment, expansion and advancement of myriad university initiatives and assets, including serving as chairman of the University of Maryland College Park Foundation Board of Trustees.

Born in Washington, D.C., Gildenhorn graduated with a degree in business administration from the University of Maryland, where he met his wife, Alma ’53. After college, Gildenhorn earned a law degree from Yale Law School, where he was a member of the editorial board of the Yale Law Journal. He was a founding partner of Brown, Gildenhorn and Jacobs, a law firm specializing in real estate. He was also a founding partner of The JBG Companies, a Maryland-based real estate development and management company that has developed dozens of buildings across the greater Washington metropolitan area. Along with the co-founders of The JBG Companies, Gildenhorn was inducted into the Washington Business Hall of Fame in 2018.

From 1989-93, Gildenhorn served as U.S. ambassador to Switzerland. Before that, he was vice chair of the DC National Bank and the Franklin National Bank.

Along with his wife, Gildenhorn created the Alma G. and Joseph B. Gildenhorn Endowment, which offered vital support to the establishment of The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center. The couple also named the center’s Recital Hall, known for its bright acoustics, which hosts the high-profile Dean’s Lecture Series as well as concerts, performances and special events. In 2006, the Gildenhorns founded, within the College of Arts and Humanities, their namesake Institute for Israel Studies, one of the nation’s preeminent centers of its kind.

In addition to his involvement at the university, Gildenhorn served for 11 years as chairman of the board of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, one of the nation’s leading think tanks. Currently, he is on the board of the Council of American Ambassadors, where he serves as treasurer and is also a trustee of the Diplomacy Center Foundation at the U.S. Department of State.

In 1996, Gildenhorn received the university’s coveted Distinguished Alumnus Award. He and his wife also became the first couple elected to the Alumni Association’s Alumni Hall of Fame in 2015, recognized both for their generosity and deeply held belief that a University of Maryland education has tremendous power to open new doors and opportunities for students.

“Terps through and through, Joseph and Alma have lent their time and talents to Maryland for many years,” says Brodie Remington, vice president for University Relations.

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