Steven Spielberg, founder of the USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education, housed in USC Dornsife, presented Chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company Robert A. Iger with the institute’s highest honor, the Ambassador for Humanity Award.
Iger was honored on June 6 at the institute’s annual gala, where he was recognized for his support of the institute’s work, his longtime philanthropy and his leadership role in corporate citizenship. The gala presenting sponsor was JCPenney. Jimmy Kimmel hosted and Mary J. Blige gave a special musical performance.
“Bob Iger is one of the good guys, who leads and inspires at the same time,” Spielberg said. “Bob was one of the first visitors to the Shoah Foundation in 1995, shortly after it was established. He didn’t hesitate to support us as we raced against time to videotape the eyewitnesses before it was too late. Now, his ongoing commitment is helping us bring the messages of the institute’s visual history archive to young people worldwide.”
Stephen D. Smith, the institute’s executive director, called Iger “a corporate citizen of the highest order.”
“We are honored to recognize him as our ambassador for humanity,” Smith said. “His ongoing support, and that of The Walt Disney Company, is a great boost to our efforts as we engage students emotionally and cognitively with the testimonies. The good news is that we are finding a shift in attitudes and beliefs about how to treat others, which gives us hope that the testimonies, through this visual medium, can have a transformative effect on perceptions and actions.”
USC President C. L. Max Nikias said he was honored to recognize Iger as a venerated member of USC's Trojan Family.
“Mr. Iger is a distinguished executive in the entertainment industry, as well as a visionary leader who shares USC’s commitment to education and to young people,” Nikias said. “He remains an exemplary role model for all USC students."
Established in 1994 by Spielberg to collect and preserve the testimonies of survivors and other witnesses of the Holocaust, the USC Shoah Foundation Institute maintains one of the largest digital video libraries in the world: nearly 52,000 video testimonies in 32 languages from 56 countries. The institute’s mission is to overcome prejudice, intolerance, and bigotry — and the suffering they cause — through the educational use of the institute’s visual history testimonies.
The institute works within USC and with partners around the world to advance scholarship and research, to provide resources and online tools for educators, and to disseminate the testimonies for educational purposes. The institute is now working with partner organizations to expand the archive with accounts of survivors and witnesses of other genocides.