Official Citation from Baruch College to Sidney Harman When Awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, May 2009
Sidney Harman, you were born in New York and have made a name for yourself throughout the world in the fields of electronics and the arts.
In 1953, you and your partner developed the first stereo receiver that combined a power amplifier, preamp, and radio tuner. Harman Kardon was born. It became a $2-billion-a-year company as one of the world’s premier makers of high-end audio and navigational systems.
A favorite quote of yours is from Maxwell Anderson who wrote, “It is for our arts that we will be remembered.”
Through the Harman-Writers-in-Residence Program, you have exposed thousands of Baruch College students to the wisdom and creativity of world class authors such as Edward Albee, Lorrie Moore, Charles Simic, Francine Prose, and Paul Auster.
Your generous gift allowed the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington D.C. to construct the Harman Center for the Arts. The theatre company’s chief development officer, Ed Zareski called you “the most thoughtful and intellectual of any philanthropist I have met.”
When you were named Assistant Secretary for Technology in the U.S. Commerce Department, you sold your interest in your company. However, your love of your company led you to buy it back piece by piece once you left public service. You are now the executive chairman of Harman International Industries, Inc.
“We can not legislate conscience,” you wrote in your book Mind Your Own Business, A Maverick’s Guide to Business, Leadership and Life.
You demonstrated your conscience in many ways throughout your career, including the Quality of Working Life Programs initiated at your company’s plants.
Your optimism shows in your words: “I believe the way to get out of bed is with a leap and to hold the conviction that each day is going to be the greatest day of my life.”
You served as President of Friends World College, a worldwide experimental Quaker college. You also founded the Program on Technology, Public Policy and Human Development at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.
You have been a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; member of the Board of Trustees of Freedom House; member of the Council on Foreign Relations; president of the Harman Family Foundation; vice chairman of the Corporate Fund Board of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts; member of the Trilateral Commission, trustee of the Martin Luther King Center for Social Change, the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, and the National Symphony Orchestra.
Golf and exercise keep your body in tune, intellectual pursuits keep your mind nimble. You have said, “Reading is the juice of a long and vivid life. I read to learn. I write to discover what I know.” You are a source of joy and inspiration to your wife, Congresswoman Jane Harman, and your four children.
In recognition of your exemplary professional accomplishments and your ongoing commitment to literature and the arts, Baruch College is proud to bestow upon you the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.
May 27, 2009