George S. Wise, founding president of Tel Aviv University in Israel and its current chancellor, died Thursday in a Miami Beach hospital.
A spokesman for American Friends of Tel Aviv University said in a statement issued from New York that Wise was 81 and died of complications of old age.
A philanthropist and lifetime Zionist who, in addition to holding master's and doctoral degrees in sociology built two major industrial firms, Wise became the first president of Tel Aviv University in 1963 when it had 1,200 students and 150 teachers on a temporary campus outside Jaffa. At his retirement eight years later, the student body numbered 12,000 and the faculty more than 1,000, all on a new 26-building campus.
Wise came to the university after launching the George S. Wise and Co. and the Inter-American Paper Corp., both newsprint manufacturers. He was credited with building the first newsprint plant in Mexico where, with his wife, Florence, he established more than 30 schools.
Earlier, he had been chairman of the board of Hebrew University in Jerusalem from 1953 to 1962 where Wise Auditorium was named for him. At Tel Aviv University his services and contributions are commemorated in the George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences and the Florence and George S. Wise Observatory.
Funeral services are scheduled Sunday in New York.