Dr. Henry Kressel
In September 2009, Henry Kressel, PhD, '55YC, was elected chairman of the Board of Trustees of Yeshiva University - the first alumnus ever to serve as its chairman. He succeeds Morry Weiss, who devoted 26 years of extraordinary leadership to YU, serving as chairman for the past five years. Dr. Kressel joined the board in 2005 and has since chaired its Academic Affairs Committee and served on the board of the Sy Syms School of Business. He is a renowned scientist, engineer, corporate manager, industry leader, author and investor.
He is a senior partner at Warburg Pincus LLC, a global private equity firm, where he is responsible for investments in high technology companies. A world-recognized expert in electronic devices, Dr. Kressel holds 31 U.S. patents and led pioneering research on lasers, transistors, solar cells and other devices. The recipient of several professional awards, he was elected to membership in the National Academy of Engineering and is a Fellow of the American Physical Society. Before joining Warburg Pincus in 1983, he was vice president at the RCA Corporation, responsible for electronics research. He also has penned more than 120 scientific publications as well as three books, including, most recently, Competing for the Future: How Digital Innovations Are Changing the World, published by Cambridge University Press. A fourth book, Investing in Dynamic Markets: Venture Capital in the Digital Age, will be published in 2010.
After majoring in physics at Yeshiva College, Dr. Kressel went on to receive an MS in applied physics from Harvard University, an MBA from the Wharton School and a PhD in material science from the University of Pennsylvania. He is also the recipient of an honorary doctorate from YU. He was appointed regents lecturer at the University of California (San Diego) and serves as an advisor on technology commercialization at the University of Cambridge (U.K.). Dr. Kressel is married to Bertha Horowitz, an alumna of the Samuel H. Wang High School for Girls [Central] and Teachers Institute for Women. His daughter, Kim, is a graduate of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law now living in Israel, and his son, Aron, is a plastic surgeon in New York City.
"Louis Pasteur once said that 'chance only favors the prepared mind.' And this is what Yeshiva College gave me: a broad Judaic and secular education and the habit of self-study. My experience at Yeshiva College was unique, and I increasingly came to appreciate the value of my college experience as I learned a great deal about other universities in the course of my lecturing and advisory services at major institutions such as the California Institute of Technology, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of California and Cambridge University. A close interaction between students and faculty is a characteristic of great schools. The YU environment fostered this relationship in both the Judaic and secular studies programs. Looking back, I found that this had been most helpful in the advanced courses that prepared me for graduate work. When I graduated, I got a prestigious fellowship to Harvard and found myself very well-prepared. I always found that my thorough YU education in the fundamentals of advanced math and physics was a huge asset as I moved into different technical fields.
"I cannot leave this subject without talking about a class I took. I had the good fortune to take an advanced English composition course with Herman Wouk [author of such classics as The Caine Mutiny and War and Remembrance]. It was an experience that shaped my career and interest in writing. It was the first time I really grasped what the English language was because we read the classics in addition to writing lengthy compositions that he carefully corrected. And I mean corrected, line by line, where he showed us how a change in word or phrasing can improve the text. In fact, he sat down with each student as he reviewed these compositions. Having been exposed to the guidance of one of the great masters of the English language was an unforgettable experience."