Inaugural Torch Prize Fellowship Grants Awarded
National Law Firm, Former Rhodes Scholar Endow Prestigious New York University Pilot Program
NEW YORK, NY – January 6, 2005 – The New York University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences today announced the award of three fellowship grants to international graduate students at NYU. The Torch Prize Fellowship, which focuses on improving understanding between the United States and other nations, was the brainchild of NYU alumnus and former Rhodes Scholar Ronald S. Katz. Katz is currently a partner at the law firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP.
Two of this year’s Torch Prize Fellowships grants were personally funded by Katz and the third was funded by Manatt, Phelps & Phillips. The grants, each in the amount of $25,000, will allow each student to conduct one year of international field research for their doctoral dissertations. This year, Torch Prize Fellows will be traveling to the Philippines, Israel and Japan to conduct their field work.
“I am delighted to be able to give back to NYU and help start this program which emphasizes giving back. I was inspired to start this program when I attended the 100th anniversary celebration of the Rhodes Scholarships, and the Rhodes Trust announced there that it was now emphasizing giving back to South Africa rather than exploiting it." Said Ron Katz, who went on to say “NYU’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences has been a perfect partner in this and my wife and I are only too happy to have been able to make this contribution.”
Although the Torch Prize Fellowship was awarded to candidates from NYU for its pilot year of 2005-2006, any US doctoral student with interests in research in other nations is eligible to apply. Currently, a permanent endowment is being established to ensure that at least twenty of these grants are given each year, putting this on the same level as the Rhodes and Fulbright scholarships.
"New York is the newest community to which our firm has expanded. I thought that helping out with the Torch Prize Fellowships was a good way to continue our firm's tradition of community involvement." stated Paul H. Irving, Manatt’s Chief Executive and Managing Partner. “This year is our firm’s fortieth anniversary and Manatt is very excited to be able to invest in this program at its inception.”
Recipients of the 2005 Torch Prize Fellowship grants are:
Talitha Espiritu (Philippines) - for her research into the media’s role in the Marcos regime
Erez Levon (Israel) - for his sociolinguistic research on language and sexuality among the Israeli gay community
Ayako Takamori (Japan) - for her linguistic research into cultural identity issues facing Japanese Americans in Japan
“NYU is very proud to be launching a fellowship that so clearly matches our own diverse and international culture,” said Catharine R. Stimpson, dean of NYU’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. “This helps address the significant decline American graduate schools have seen in attracting top international doctoral candidates.”
A spokesperson for the Torch Prize Fellowship, distinguished South African writer and painter Breyten Breytenbach commented that “overseas, the U.S. has a real reputation problem that it is not even aware of. The Torch Fellowship, with its slogan—the light of knowledge uniting the world—will go a long way towards repairing the perception of America in the rest of the world.” Breytenbach was the head of the selection committee for this year’s Torch winners.
About the 2005 Torch Prize Fellows
Talitha Espiritu, a native of the Philippines, was raised under the Marcos regime (her father was dressmaker to First Lady Imelda Marcos) until her family moved to the United States in 1994. In 1992 Espiritu received a B.A. in Humanities from Ateneo De Manila University, Manilla, where she was a Merit Scholar. In 1998, she received an M.A. in Humanities from NYU followed in 2000 by a second M.A. degree from NYU in Cinema Studies. Espiritu has received numerous awards and fellowships including NYU’s Hirschorn Thesis Award. Espiritu has been widely published on a number of topics relating to cinema, the media and politics.
Erez Levon was born in Israel to Israeli parents and moved to the United States at six months of age. Levon, who is fluent in several languages including Hebrew, began his study of linguistics at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he received a B.A. magna cum laude in Linguistics and French in 2000. In 2002 Levon received an M.A. in Linguistics from NYU. Levon has received several grants including NYU’s Henry MacCracken Fellowship. Levon has lectured extensively on topics including sociolinguistics, gender and sexuality studies, prosody, Jewish communities and Israel.
Ayako Takamori is a second generation Japanese American born in Canada, but raised by Japanese parents in Seattle’s Japanese American community. Takamori attended Smith College where she received a B.A. magna cum laude in Anthropology and Women’s Studies in 2000. Takamori has received several awards including Smith College’s Bowles Prize and has lectured on topics ranging from anthropology to woman’s issues.
About The Torch Prize Fellowship
To improve understanding between the United States and other nations means shining light back on what has made America the country it is today – its shared roots and common heritage with the rest of the globe. The Torch Fellowship at New York University will seek to fulfill this international mission through scholarship. The Fellowship will encourage a new generation of American scholars, thinkers and researchers to seek the highest educational achievement and to increase understanding and knowledge of the cultural and social relations shared by the United States and the world.
Currently celebrating its 40th anniversary, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP provides legal and consulting services to domestic and international clients from offices in Los Angeles, Orange County, Palo Alto and Sacramento, Calif.; New York and Albany, N.Y, and Washington D.C.. Its wholly owned subsidiary, Manatt Jones Global Strategies, LLC, develops and implements strategies to expand clients’ businesses and facilitate their effective competition in global markets. For more information, visit www.manatt.com and www.manattjones.com.