UM Awards Bernard Osher with Honorary Doctorate
During Commencement of 2011, UM presented an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree to Bernard Osher, founder and treasurer of the Bernard Osher Foundation, which seeks to improve quality of life through support of higher education and the arts.
Osher, known as “the quiet philanthropist,” created the Bernard Osher Foundation in 1977. The foundation provides postsecondary scholarship funding to colleges and universities across the nation and supports selected centers in integrative medicine. In addition, it supports a growing national network of lifelong learning institutes for older adults, including the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UM. Known as MOLLI, the institute annually offers courses to about 1,000 people 50 and older.
Osher is an active community leader in the San Francisco Bay Area. A native of Biddeford, Maine, and a graduate of Bowdoin College, he pursued a successful career in business, beginning with the management of his family’s hardware and plumbing supplies store.
In 1970 he purchased the fine art auction house of Butterfield & Butterfield and oversaw its growth to become the fourth-largest auction house in the world. He sold the company in 1999 to eBay.
Osher was a founding director of World Savings, the second-largest savings institution in the United States, which merged with Wachovia Corp. He and his wife, Barbro, conduct their philanthropy through the Bernard Osher Foundation, the Bernard Osher Jewish Philanthropies Fund and the Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation, which supports Swedish cultural and education projects in North America and Sweden.