Office of Public Affairs
(315) 341-2265
March 14, 2001
OSWEGO -- The woman who helped rescue nearly 1,000 refugees from the Holocaust will receive an honorary doctorate at SUNY Oswego's 140th commencement May 12.
Journalist and author Ruth Gruber is best known for her journey with the 982 refugees of the Nazi Holocaust from war-torn Europe to a temporary haven at Oswego's Fort Ontario.
An honorary doctor of humane letters degree from the State University of New York will be bestowed on Gruber at Oswego's afternoon commencement ceremony for the College of Arts and Sciences at 1:30 p.m. May 12.
SUNY Oswego nominated her for her life as a pioneering journalist, a model for women activists and an example for everyone who embraces freedom. She became a foreign correspondent and a pioneer for women at a time when, according to Gruber, "Men didn't think women were smart or brave."
In an article in Ms. magazine, Gruber summed up her philosophy: "To be adventurous, to be an activist, to be a rebel, to be compassionate and most of all to be a mensch."
During her 89 years, she has written 14 books, given hundreds of talks and received many awards.
She spoke on campus last April, giving her firsthand account of America's only refugee camp for Holocaust survivors, at Fort Ontario, and efforts to create a Jewish state in Palestine after World War II. Gruber's war dispatches, collected in her book "Exodus 1947," became a basis for Leon Uris' best-selling novel "Exodus" and movie of the same name.
Her most recent book, "Haven," was the basis for the February CBS miniseries recounting the story of the refugees' journey to America.
Gruber also played a major role in the documentary "The Long Way Home" about what happened to European Jews from 1945 to 1948. The film won the Academy Award in 1998 for best documentary.
Gruber was a photojournalist and foreign correspondent for the New York Herald Tribune, covering Israel and the Middle East from the end of World War II. In 1948, she covered Israel's war of independence, traveling with the Israeli Army. She then covered every exodus into Israel.
In 1998, she received the "Lifetime Achievement Award" from the American Society of Journalists and Authors for her role as "a pioneering journalist and author whose books chronicle the most important events of the 20th century." She also received awards in 1997 from the Simon Wiesenthal Center and in 1999 from the National Council of Jewish Women.
Gruber was born in Brooklyn, earned her journalism degree at age 18 from New York University and her master's at 19 from the University of Wisconsin. She received her doctorate a year later from the University of Cologne in Germany, and the New York Times called her the world's youngest Ph.D.
In 1932 she started her career as a journalist. In 1935, the New York Herald Tribune asked her to write a series about women under Communism and Fascism. She traveled across Europe and Siberia to cover the story.
Harold Ickes, President Roosevelt's secretary of the interior, read her work and asked her to study the prospects of Alaska for homesteading G.I.s after World War II. In 1944, Ickes asked her to take on another special mission: secretly escorting 1,000 refugees from Italy to America.
- END -
News Releases Main Page | Public Affairs Main Page | SUNY Oswego Home