Jewish Detroiters share a special relationship with the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and new chairman of the Board of Governors Scott Leemaster.
Featured image courtesy of the Technion
As one pillar of the Detroit Jewish community leaves his post as chairman of the Board of Governors (BOG) at Technion–Israel Institute of Technology, another will take his place.
Larry Jackier completed his 12th and final year as chairman of the BOG, and Scott Leemaster has stepped into the position. Both men were honored for their commitment to Israel and the university last month at a ceremony in Haifa.
Jackier of West Bloomfield, an attorney with the Law Offices of Jackier Gould, belongs to three synagogues: Congregation Shaarey Zedek, Temple Israel and The Shul. He is the trustee of various charitable foundations and has been a leader in the Jewish community, both locally and nationally, for more than 40 years. His ties to the Technion run especially deep.
Jackier’s late parents, Edythe and Joe, were active supporters. Joe Jackier was also on the Technion Board of Governors when he returned from a trip to Israel in 1987. Tragically, he died a week later and Larry stepped up to finish the projects his father had started. “I became interested in what the Technion was doing,” he said. That was the start.
Jackier has been on the BOG for 24 years and is a past national president of the American Technion Society (ATS). He co-created the 21st Century Leadership Development Program and helped organize a Solidarity Delegation to Israel during Operation Protective Edge in 2014.
As Technion Guardians — an honor reserved for those who support the university at the highest level — Jackier and his wife, Eleanor, have advanced research across numerous fields. Jackier has been recognized with a Technion honorary fellowship and honorary doctorate as well as the Technion Medal and the Einstein Award — the highest honors of the Technion and the ATS, respectively. The Jackiers were presented with the key to the Technion to cement the deep connection between their family and the university. That family legacy is likely to continue, said Jackier, who will remain on the Technion’s BOG.
He and Eleanor together have seven children, 21 grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Twelve members of his family were able to make it to the event in Haifa. “As a result,” he said, “they are now interested in getting involved with the Technion as well.”
Jackier’s grandson Jonah Folbe of New York has already been in touch with the Technion to see what he can do, and his stepson Adam Folbe, a physician from Michigan, was also impressed and eager to get involved.
“My son Seth, who lives in Glencoe, Ill., is already involved in leadership development at the Chicago chapter of the American Technion Society, so that makes four generations of Jackiers,” he said proudly.
A New Chairman
Incoming chairman Scott Leemaster of Franklin, vice president and principal of Madison Electric Company, has been involved with Hebrew Free Loan and the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit in addition to his work with the Technion. He and his wife, Susie, are members of Temple Israel.
After training in the ATS 21st Century Leadership Program, Leemaster served twice as president of the Detroit ATS Chapter. Stepping up in 2012 to become ATS national president, he presided over the launch of the organization’s half-billion-dollar fundraising campaign “Innovation for a Better World.”
As Technion Guardians, he and Susie have supported many projects and ATS Missions. He also chaired a trip to Israel and Paris and joined Jackier as co-leader of the Solidarity Delegation. In 2009, he received a Technion Honorary Fellowship.
Leemaster said he’s lucky to have “followed in Larry’s footsteps” at the ATS when he had been looking to become involved with something that had a direct Israel connection.
“The Technion has had tremendous impact on the country since it was established, from the early days of expertise in civil engineering and agriculture to today where it is on the advanced frontiers of science. The Technion has elevated the economy and security of Israel,” he said.
Leemaster said his work with the Technion has always been motivated by the Jewish value of tikkun olam — repairing the world. “The Technion is an extraordinarily effective tool for repairing the world by innovating and sharing solutions in science and technology. It is without question the engine behind Israel’s startup nation phenomenon and is making the entire world a better place.”
“More than anything, I’m proud of my own Jewish community for producing back-to-back chairmanships,” Jackier said. “It’s truly amazing.”
Started in 1940, the Detroit ATS Chapter is one of the oldest in the U.S. Its donors have built many key projects on campus and their Technion connections often pass through the generations.
“The Detroit Jewish community has more people involved in national and international Jewish organizations than any other Jewish community in the U.S.,” Jackier said. “We have a history of producing tremendous leadership in the American and international Jewish communities — out of all proportion to the size of our community. This is just a current example.”
When asked why he thinks Detroit enjoys such a proud tradition, Jackier said, “I think it’s because we’re a very closeknit community with a lot of interrelationships that go way, way back. So many of our peers who grew up with us are still here and involved in Jewish life.” (To read more about Detroit’s long history with the Technion, see “Looking Back” on page 42.)
As Leemaster takes over the reins as chairman, he said, “I plan to stay the course, maintaining the high standards and values the Technion exemplifies. I want to help the new president in any way I can.”
Prof. Uri Sivan will become next president of the Technion in September.
“I stand on the shoulders of giants and I hope to see far, high and deep,” Sivan said at the ceremony. “Technion will continue to serve as a beacon of pluralism, equality, freedom of speech, integrity, ethics, social justice, environmental consciousness and inclusion in the global community based on these values.”
Jackier said he plans to remain active in the background and has already offered his help to Sivan and Leemaster should they need it.
“I’ve gotten way more out of my time with Technion than I ever put in,” Jackier said. “It’s been a privilege to have served as chairman of the BOG, but my biggest pride is in our Detroit Jewish community and its legacy of service.”