Philanthropist and businessman Kenneth Fisher, chairman and chief executive officer of the Fisher House Foundation, received an honorary Doctor of Commercial Science degree from Ithaca College at the school’s 2016 commencement ceremony on May 22.
The Fisher House Foundation provides housing where families of hospitalized military personnel and veterans can be near their loved ones, as well as scholarships for veterans, their spouses and their children. In partnership with Newman’s Own and the Military Times, the foundation also supports grant funding for efforts to improve the quality of life for members of the military.
During the commencement ceremony, Benjamin Rifkin, provost and vice president for educational affairs at Ithaca College, commended Fisher for his philanthropic work.
“As chair and CEO of the Fisher House Foundation, you have assisted in building over 60 houses in the United States and Germany where families of hospitalized military personnel and veterans can be near their loved ones,” said Rifkin. “Over 22,000 military families are served each year by the Fisher Houses, saving them hundreds of millions of dollars in lodging and travel costs since the founding of Fisher House in 1990.”
Fisher, who attended Ithaca College from 1976 to 1980, serves as a senior partner at Fisher Brothers real estate firm, where he oversees the leasing, management and marketing of commercial space in Midtown Manhattan and Washington, D.C. His other community activities have included serving on the President’s Commission on Care for America’s Returning Wounded Warriors, as co-chair of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum and on the board of directors of the Jackie Robinson Foundation.
For his many humanitarian efforts, Fisher has been honored with the Department of Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the nation’s highest non-combat military award; the U.S. Army’s George C. Marshall Medal and Decoration for Distinguished Civilian Service; and the Public Awareness Award from the Paralyzed Veterans of America.
Honorary degrees were also awarded to New York Times senior video correspondent Adam Ellick ’99 and Francisco J. Núñez, MacArthur Fellow and founder of the Young People’s Chorus of New York City. Ellick, who is best known as the reporter who first brought Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai to the attention of the world, delivered the main address.
Nominees for an honorary degree from Ithaca College must possess a record of outstanding achievement, community services, philanthropic endeavors and interest in education and/or humanitarian programs; be known for outstanding scholarly contributions and/or demonstration of some other significant service of benefit to humanity or Ithaca College; and have made outstanding contributions to society in ways that harmonize with the heritage, character and mission of the college.
Previous recipients include playwright Tony Kushner, “ABC World News Tonight” anchor David Muir ’95, actress CCH Pounder ’75, civil rights pioneer Dorothy Cotton, developmental psychologist Howard Gardner and conductor Frank Battisti ’53, M.S. ’64.
For more information on the Ithaca College Commencement ceremony, visit www.ithaca.edu/commencement.