UC to Bestow Highest Award to Local Businessman, Innovator

The University of Cincinnati will bestow its highest award, an honorary doctorate, to renowned innovator and international businessman Gary Heiman during the university’s fall Commencement ceremonies.

Heiman, who served on UC’s board of trustees from 2004 to 2014, will receive an Honorary Doctor of Commercial Science degree at the ceremony set for 9 a.m., Saturday, Dec. 12, in Fifth Third Arena.   

The enterprising industrialist is the president of the Standard Textile Co., Inc., a global provider of state-of-the-art textiles to the healthcare, hospitality and industrial supply organizations.

Launched in 1940 by Heiman’s grandfather, a German immigrant and Holocaust survivor, the textile distribution company operated one manufacturing facility when Heiman became president in 1988.  Under his leadership – he was later named CEO in 1994, succeeding his father, Paul Heiman – Standard Textile has expanded to 25 locations in 12 countries, with annual revenues of nearly $800 million.   

Born in Cincinnati, Heiman cut his manufacturing chops after traveling to Israel in 1973 at the age of 21.  After serving as a volunteer in an elite Israeli army unit during the Yom Kippur war, Heiman remained in Israel where he opened Standard Textile’s first manufacturing facility to help establish a strong industrial infrastructure.

The plant, built in Arad at the edge of Israel’s Negev desert and opened in 1976, now supplies leading hospitals and prestigious hotels across Europe and the U.S. In 2001, the Israeli president awarded Heiman the “Industrialist of the Year” prize and later, in 2008, with the “Pioneer of Negev” award, which recognizes him as one of 12 major contributors to the influential region.  

Heiman, who holds dual Israeli and U.S. citizenship, spent 14 years in Israel before returning to take the helm of Standard Textile, but his interest in Mideast affairs didn’t end there.  

In 1998, Standard Textile became the first American company to build a manufacturing facility in Irbid, Jordan, in a move that supported the U.S. government’s efforts to bring the economic benefits of a peace treaty between Jordan and Israel to the Jordanian people, where the then unemployment rate hovered around 40 percent.  

Community involvement closer to home remains a priority for Heiman, and his list of service is a long one: chairman of the board of The Jewish Hospital of Cincinnati; member of the executive committee and board of the Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce; member of the board of directors of Medpace, Inc., the Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati, the Cincinnati Business Committee and Cintrifuse; member of the Commercial Club; and a previous Health Alliance of Greater Cincinnati board member.

Heiman also serves as vice president of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs and as an officer with the Israel Policy Forum.  He and his wife, Kim -- a current UC trustee -- have three grown children.  

Heiman is one of two recipients of honorary degrees at the Commencement ceremony. Earl Lewis, a renowned social historian and president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will receive the other award.  

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