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Raymond Ackerman to receive Honorary Doctor of Letters degree

| Awards and achievements

Raymond Ackerman, a South African entrepreneur and philanthropist who stood up to the apartheid system of government, will receive an honorary Doctor of Letters degree during the commencement ceremony for the Rutgers School of Business–Camden on Thursday, May 19.

The Rutgers Board of Governors announced the selection during its regularly scheduled meeting on April 6.

Ackerman, a founder of Pick n Pay, the second largest supermarket chain store in South Africa, will receive the honor during the Rutgers School of Business–Camden commencement ceremony at 9:30 a.m. at the BB&T Pavilion in Camden. His daughter, Suzanne Ackerman-Berman, transformation director for Pick n Pay, will deliver a keynote speech during the ceremony.

“Mr. Ackerman and the Pick n Pay brand share Rutgers’ commitment to excellence and innovation, values of diversity, and inclusion and focus on civic engagement and community service,” Rutgers University–Camden Chancellor Phoebe Haddon says. “He has built an organization that is both fiscally sound and socially responsible and, in so doing, offers a forward-thinking business model for the world.  Rutgers University-Camden looks forward to presenting Mr. Ackerman with an honorary degree in recognition of his visionary entrepreneurship.”

Ackerman acquired Pick n Pay in 1967 and grew the brand from four retail stores to more than 450, including 121 supermarkets and 14 “hypermarkets,” a retail facility that combines a supermarket and a department store. The company operates throughout southern Africa and Australia and has flourished as one of Africa’s largest supermarket chains with more than 50,000 employees across the continent.

Ackerman defied the apartheid system of government in South Africa, which endorsed racial segregation and denied rights to many South Africans for 50 years. During the 1970s, when the apartheid government ordered grocers to increase the price of bread, Ackerman refused. Furthermore, he opened up job opportunities at Pick n Pay for non-white citizens and offered higher-than-customary wages.

Under Ackerman’s leadership, Pick n Pay served as a model for accelerating business opportunities for small and emerging businesses in South Africa, while also operating under principles of social responsibility, sustainability, and the inherit value and dignity of all people including  consumers and employees.

Ackerman’s business philosophy supports business and life opportunities for employees and suppliers, commits to environmental responsibility, and provides support to entrepreneurs from disadvantaged backgrounds.

He has been honored for his role in spearheading business recovery in South Africa. The Ackerman Family Educational Trust supports approximately 60 students each year through scholarships, and it promotes educational organizations such as the READ Educational Trust and institutions for individuals with mental or physical disabilities.

He also has committed to charitable initiatives through the Raymond and Wendy Ackerman Pick n Pay Foundation and the Raymond Ackerman Academy of Entrepreneurial Development at the University of Cape Town.

For each of the last 20 years, Ackerman has participated in Rutgers University–Camden’s annual learning abroad program in South Africa by providing mentorship to students and by lending his expertise to coursework for the program. During the annual 12-day trip to South Africa, Rutgers–Camden students visit businesses and government institutions to learn more about management and marketing practices in the region while interacting with business leaders and community organizations.

He has been recognized as one of the “100 most influential South Africans to have shaped the 20thcentury” by residents of South Africa and has received numerous awards and honors for his achievements.

Ackerman received his bachelor’s degree in commerce from the University of Cape Town.

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