Paul & Daisy M. Soros

Both presented by Catharine R. Stimpson H’90, Trustee, for Doctor of Laws

In 1997, entrepreneur and engineer Paul Soros and his wife, Daisy M. Soros, established a $50 million charitable foundation to support the transformative power of American higher education, to raise awareness of the contributions of immigrants to U.S. life and citizenship and to honor the Soroses’ own experiences as new Americans. A member of the Hungarian ski team in 1948, Paul Soros defected at the Olympics in Switzerland and arrived in Manhattan with $17 in his pocket. Earning a graduate degree in engineering from Polytechnic University, he founded Soros Associates, a firm that developed ports and offshore terminals in 90 countries. Paul Soros is now a private investor and member of the Council on Foreign Relations who serves on corporate and non-profit boards. Daisy M. Soros emigrated from Hungary to New York City, first studying at Columbia University. She received psychiatric social-work training at New York University’s School of Social Work and counseled terminally ill patients and their families. A board and executive committee member at Lincoln Center and the New York Philharmonic, she has won awards for her service, which includes board appointments to Weill Cornell Medical College, the Society of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City.

The Paul and Daisy M. Soros Fellowships for New Americans, which Mrs. Soros chairs, provide support for two years of graduate study at American universities to 30 immigrants or children of immigrants appointed annually. Fellows are selected based on sustained intellectual achievement and creativity, as well as a commitment to human rights and the rule of law in advancing the responsibilities of citizenship in a free society. Recent fellows have included a woman who escaped the Khmer Rouge and studied at Columbia; another, the first member of his Amazon Basin tribe to leave the rain forest, studied at Stanford. Explaining their philanthropy to The New York Times, Mrs. Soros struck a modest note: “The big trend in this city is putting your name on a building, which didn’t appeal to my husband.” Mr. Soros added, “We did this instead.”

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