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Harvard honors Jewish alumnus striving to eradicate blindness

Sanford Greenberg overcame “staggering adversity” to become a business leader and philanthropist.

Sanford Greenberg
Sanford Greenberg, photographed for Baltimore Magazine, on Sept. 25, 2017, in Washington, D.C. Photo by Mike Morgan.

Harvard University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences recently awarded alumnus Sanford Greenberg a centennial medal, which the school bestows on “alumni whose contributions to knowledge, to their disciplines, to their colleagues and to society at large have made a fundamental and lasting impact.”

The New Jewish Home is also honoring Greenberg on May 31 in its “Eight Over 80,” celebrating those “who personify the value of aging well into our 80s and beyond,” according to a news release.

Greenberg overcame “staggering adversity” to become a business leader and philanthropist, per the release. As a 19-year-old Columbia University student in 1961, “misdiagnosed glaucoma claimed his vision.” In graduate school in Cambridge, Mass., he “invented a machine that could speed up tape-recorded human speech without distortion.”

He has also launched a prize to end blindness and penned the memoir Hello Darkness, My Old Friend.

Greenberg has served as a trustee of Johns Hopkins University and as board chair of its Wilmer Eye Institute. In 2021, the institute created the Sanford and Susan Greenberg Center to End Blindness, which “is the fulfillment of a promise to God—a tikkun olam in the Jewish faith—Greenberg made when he first lost his vision,” per the release.

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