Princeton hosts World Cultural Council awards

Two leading scholars in the fields of education and science will be recognized Tuesday, Nov. 11, at the 25th annual award ceremony of the World Cultural Council. The ceremony will be hosted by Princeton University and is free and open to the public.

The cultural council, a Mexico-based international organization that promotes academic achievement, will bestow its José Vasconcelos World Award of Education on Princeton President Emeritus William Bowen, and the council will give its Albert Einstein World Award of Science to Israel's Ada Yonath, a professor of structural biology, in a ceremony at 4:30 p.m. in Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall, on the University campus.

Each year, the World Cultural Council chooses two leading scholars from around the world -- one in the field of science and, in alternating years, the second either in education or the arts -- whose work benefits society and selects a university to host the annual awards celebration. This is the first year in the 25-year history of the ceremonies that the council's awards committee has selected a member of the host institution for one of the international World Awards.

"I am delighted that we can join the World Cultural Council in honoring two remarkable scholars, our own Bill Bowen and Ada Yonath of Israel's Weizmann Institute," President Shirley M. Tilghman said. "Like the council, Princeton is committed to fostering international understanding and the global exchange of knowledge, and the award ceremony will both celebrate and affirm this common mission."

According to Executive Director of the World Cultural Council Esteban Meszaros Wild, Princeton was selected as the host of this year's awards ceremony because the council and the University share the desire to promote innovation in research and education, as well as to produce graduates "who are willing to work tirelessly for the progress of humankind."

"One of the main aspects [we] have in common is the challenge both institutions face, each in its own ambit, to offer an educational response to today's students," Wild said, "to provide them with the tools that will enable them to become the leaders of tomorrow, not just as competent professionals, but as exemplary citizens."

Yonath, who is the director of the Helen and Milton A. Kimmelman Center for Biomolecular Structure and Assembly at the Weizmann Institute for Science in Israel, will receive the council's Einstein World Award in recognition of her pioneering contributions to protein biosynthesis in the field of ribosomal crystallography. Techniques she developed are now used routinely in many laboratories, with applications in the development and design of new antibiotics.

Bowen, who served as Princeton's president from 1972 to 1988, and also is president emeritus of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is being recognized in the Nov. 11 ceremony for his work promoting the use of technology in education, in addition to creating educational opportunities for individuals who historically were disadvantaged in the college admission process by race, gender or socioeconomic background.

"No one deserves this honor more than Bill Bowen," Tilghman said. "As provost and president of Princeton and as the longest-serving head of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, he left an indelible mark on both institutions and on American higher education as a whole. Through his forward-looking policies, compelling research and personal example, he has challenged all of us to broaden the path to higher education in the name of both equity and excellence."

Bowen and Yonath will share perspectives on their work in academic lectures the day before the awards ceremony. Yonath's lecture, titled "The Stunning Architecture of the Ribosome and the Wisdom of Its Antibiotics," will be at 1:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 10, in 104 Computer Science Building on the Princeton campus. Bowen's lecture, "Disparities in Educational Opportunity in the U.S.: Causes and Cures," will be at 4:30 p.m. in 104 Computer Science Building the same day.

The lectures and the award ceremony are free, with admission on a first-come, first-served basis.

Members of the news media who wish to attend must RSVP no later than noon Friday, Nov. 7, by e-mailing