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Robert Kraft to accept honorary Brandeis degree on wife Myra's behalf

Posted by Jaclyn Reiss  April 10, 2012 04:26 PM

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Bill Brett/Globe Photo

Myra and Robert Kraft are shown at a 2007 fund-raiser for the Boys and Girls Club of Boston.

Brandeis University announced that it will award an honorary degree to Myra Kraft, known for her philanthropic efforts and the wife of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, during this year's commencement.

Kraft, who died last July from cancer, graduated from Brandeis with a history degree in 1964, according to the university's website.

Her husband will accept the honor on her behalf during the ceremony, slated for May 20.

The Krafts supported a number of initiatives at Brandeis, including a chair in Arab politics and numerous student scholarships. Myra Kraft became a Brandeis trustee in 1986 and served as vice chair of the board for 10 years.

Kraft was also daughter of a Worcester businessman, Jacob Hiatt, who served as chair of the board of trustees from 1971 to 1977, and was a generous Brandeis benefactor as well, according to the university.

Kraft is often celebrated for her philanthropic work in the greater Boston area. She also chaired the boards of Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston.

She also served on boards for The Boston Foundation, the United Way of Massachusetts Bay, Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, the American Repertory Theater, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, and Facing History and Ourselves, a Holocaust education organization.

In addition to serving on multiple boards, she managed the Robert and Myra Kraft Family Foundation and the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation.

According to her obituary in The Boston Globe, Robert and Myra met at a delicatessen in Back Bay, while she was still attending Brandeis. They connected over a silent exchange of winks there.

Frederick M. Lawrence, president of Brandeis, said in the obituary that she was a true Brandeisian.

"She was the daughter of one of the visionary early leaders of Brandeis, a distinguished graduate, and a trustee who had a deep sense of the university as a community," he said. "She was always reaching out to students, faculty, and other trustees and served as a model to all of us in so many ways.”

Kraft is one of five to receive an honorary award at the commencement. The others include Deborah Bial, the founder and president of The Posse Foundation; Sydney Brenner, a pioneering molecular biologist and geneticist; Joseph Polisi, the president of The Juilliard School; and Amartya Sen, an economist and philosopher who received a Nobel Prize in 1998.

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Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at jreiss.globe@gmail.com

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