Academy Article

On the Passing of Morton L. Mandel


It is with deep sadness that the American Academy of Arts and Sciences notes the passing of business leader, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and dedicated public servant Morton L. Mandel, who received the organization’s Scholar-Patriot Award in 2016. 

Mort Mandel was just the sixth recipient of the award and was celebrated as – in the words of the Scholar-Patriot citation presented to him – “the model of the enlightened, informed, and passionate leader.”

The citation from the Scholar-Patriot Award:  

Morton L. Mandel - For more than seventy years, your energy, generosity, and dedication to the public good have known no bounds. 
From humble beginnings, your parents instilled within you the basic values of integrity, respect, honesty, decency and generosity. With your brothers and these core values, you built a thriving global corporation dedicated to the principles of delivering quality products and exceptional service, and the simple yet powerful philosophy: if you find a need, fill it. 
In your work and your philanthropy, you have developed leaders with passion and intellect. You have modeled the lessons learned early in life to share resources and to be generous relative to your capability, and have inspired generations of leaders in higher education, the Jewish community, and nonprofit organizations to change the world and improve the human condition.
You have taught us to dream and to believe dreams can be realized. 

We are better off because of you.

Mort Mandel, who was elected a member of the Academy in 2011, was Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Parkwood LLC, headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio. With his brothers Jack and Joseph, he founded the Premier Industrial Corporation, which later became one of the world’s leading industrial parts and electronic components distributors. He served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Corporation from 1957 to 1996, when it merged with a British company.

Mandel also served as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel Foundation, which funds numerous social leadership initiatives in the United States and Israel. The work of the Foundation is grounded in the belief that exceptional leaders, inspired by powerful ideas, are key to improving society and the lives of people around the world.  In addition to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, organizations that have received philanthropic support from the Mandel Foundation include Brandeis University, Case Western University, the Cleveland Clinic, Hebrew University, and the Mandel Leadership Institute in Jerusalem.

The American Academy was founded in 1780 by John Adams, John Hancock, and others, to honor excellence and convene leaders to examine new ideas, address issues of importance to the nation and the world, and work together – in the words of our charter – “to cultivate every art and science which may tend to advance the interest, honor, dignity, and happiness of a free, independent, and virtuous people.”

Mort believed deeply in the work of the Academy and, as the single largest donor in the Academy’s history, he helped transform our organization in recent years.  Through the Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel Foundation, Mort’s generosity allowed the Academy to establish our membership engagement program, further the impact of our studies, provide greater outreach to members across the country and around the world, and address issues with our technology and infrastructure. 

Mort Mandel epitomized the vision, set forth by the Academy’s founders, of a patriot dedicated to advancing the common good and devoted to service to others and to the nation. He will be missed.