On July 1st 2019, former CRDF Global board member, Dr. Victor Rabinowitch, passed away at the age of 84. Victor had a long and illustrious career, throughout which he was devoted to the cause of promoting science and diplomacy. Victor spent 25 years at the National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council (NAS/NRC), including serving as executive director of the Office of International Affairs of the NRC. He subsequently served as senior vice president of the MacArthur Foundation and was instrumental in opening MacArthur’s field office in Moscow.
In the months following Victor’s death, a group of friends, colleagues, and family members came together to organize the Victor Rabinowitch Memorial Symposium. With generous support from the Lounsbery Foundation and CRDF Global, the symposium was originally planned as a two-day in-person event, which was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The organizing committee is now pleased to announce the launch of a new Victor Rabinowitch Memorial Symposium, reborn not as a one-time event, but as an ongoing, living tribute. At the outset, two components are envisioned: a virtual seminar series on key issues in international scientific cooperation (to be jointly hosted by the National Academies and CRDF Global), and a prize for young leaders in international scientific cooperation.
Symposium 1: "US-Russia Scientific Cooperation"
Symposium 2: "Science and Technology for Development: Where We Are Now and Where We Need to Go"
Symposium 3: "Rethinking U.S.-Russian Nuclear Arms Control"
"A True Internationalist": Words From the Rabinowitch Family
Victor Rabinowitch was a true internationalist. He particularly loved working and traveling in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Born in London of Russian émigré parents, he devoted a good portion of his life to the development of programs that foster collaboration with Russian scientists. A firm believer in the importance of education, particularly in science and technology, he worked with colleagues to share those benefits with others. He was truly interested in people and enjoyed nothing more than meeting and talking with them. He didn’t mind sitting in airport lounges waiting for flights because he loved to observe those around him. He was as comfortable talking with taxi drivers as he was prime ministers. On arriving in a new land, one of the first places he would visit was the local market. He would regale colleagues with stories of new foods and restaurants he had visited.
Victor was truly committed to making the world a safer, more prosperous place for the benefit of all people. He believed, as did his father, that scientists could play a unique role in promoting mutually beneficial relations among countries. When Russian and American scientists met at the Rabinowitch summer home in Vermont after an early Pugwash conference, he later recalled how he watched some of the world’s most eminent scientists roll up their sleeves and together collate the papers they had presented.
He believed also that institutions were only as good as the people who worked in them and that it was the responsibility of managers to cultivate and support their staffs. His management style was not desk bound; he much preferred walking the hallways, often whistling as he went, and dropping in on his colleagues in their offices, listening to their concerns, and encouraging them whenever needed. He was jovial and kind by nature and staff welcomed his counsel. They always knew he had their backs! And that he did not need to take credit for their successes. Victor was a man of principle, dedicated to improving the human condition by advocating for science and technology, for human rights, for arms control and international security and for using the world’s resources, both human and financial, to achieve common goals. May he rest in peace.
The Victor Rabinowitch Memorial Symposium was made possible by the Richard Lounsbery Foundation, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, CRDF Global, and private donors.