Commencement 2016: Biographies - Martin J. Granoff

Martin J. Granoff, an important player in the textile industry for more than fifty years, and the founder and chair of Val d’Or Apparel/Cannon County Knitting Mills, is awarded an honorary Doctor of Public Service during the Phase I ceremony of Tufts University's 160th Commencement on Sunday, May 22, 2016.
Photo by Alonso Nichols/Tufts Photography


It is impossible to look around the Tufts campus and not notice the imprint of Tufts Trustee Emeritus Marty Granoff and his family. Their philanthropy has given this university a Hillel Center that promotes religious and cultural understanding and a performance center that has re-energized our music program by creating spaces and places for students and faculty to learn, teach, play, and enjoy. Believing that the sounds of music are important to each and every one of us, Marty and his wife, Perry, have helped the Tufts Community Music Program sponsor more than 150 public concerts and events every year and offer music classes for children and adults in our neighboring communities. Out of Marty’s abiding desire to improve the human condition have sprung beauty, hope, and faith, at Tufts and at other institutions. Marty, we are inspired by your example and proud to present you with an honorary degree of Doctor of Public Service.

Photo by Alonso Nichols/Tufts Photography


MARTIN J. GRANOFF and his wife, Perry, have been instrumental in crafting the landscape of arts and culture at Tufts University. Their involvement began when their son, Michael, A91, served as president of Tufts Hillel. “When Marty found out that Tufts was one of the few fine universities that did not have a Hillel center, he said, ‘We have to do something about this,’” recalls Rabbi Jeffrey Summit G88 G95, the university’s Jewish chaplain and the Neubauer Executive Director of Tufts Hillel.

Granoff became the driving force behind the conception and construction of the Granoff Family Hillel Center, which opened in 1994 on the Medford/Somerville campus. “The Hillel Center has become a vibrant, beautiful space that facilitates connection and interaction across religious and cultural lines,” says Summit. “Marty really cares about student connection.”

Granoff is a lifelong patron of the arts, notably as a major supporter of New York City’s legendary nonprofit Roundabout Theatre Company. When he learned that Tufts’ music department needed space for study and performance, he again stepped in and took up the cause. “With music being such an important part of most people’s lives, it follows that every great institution should provide as good a music education as possible,” Granoff said at the time.

With the couple’s generous support, the Perry and Marty Granoff Music Center opened in 2007, creating a place for students, faculty, and members of the community to learn, teach, create, perform, and enjoy music. The state-of-the-art building features classrooms, faculty offices, practice rooms, teaching studios with grand pianos, ensemble rehearsal areas, and a home for the Lily Music Library. The crown jewel is the three-hundred-seat Distler Performance Hall, which Joseph Auner, a professor of music, describes as “a big, resonant space that keeps the sound alive.”

“Marty had a vision,” Auner says. “He saw the potential of a music building to be a space that has a major impact on the lives of students and faculty and on the school as a whole.”

In 2010, the Granoffs established the Granoff Music Fund to support the Tufts Community Music Program, which sponsors more than one hundred fifty public concerts and events every year, offers music classes for children and adults, and has brought such musical theater luminaries as Stephen Sondheim, Bernadette Peters, and Audra McDonald to campus.

Granoff’s interests are wide-ranging. He established a center in Israel for the development of genetic therapies for cancer patients. He is a former member of the Board of Directors of the National World War II Museum, and is a former trustee of the National Hillel Foundation. Inspired by the music center at Tufts, the Granoffs funded the Perry and Marty Granoff Center for the Creative Arts at Brown University, from which their daughter, Gillian, graduated in 1993.

In his professional life, Granoff, a graduate of New York University, has been an important player in the American textile industry for more than fifty years. The founder and chair of Val d’Or Apparel/Cannon County Knitting Mills, a manufacturer of private-label clothes for brands including Lacoste, Ralph Lauren, and Hanes, he has served as chair of the American Apparel Manufacturers Association, co-chair of the Business Alliance for Trade Agreements, and chair and chief executive of the apparel manufacturer Koret Inc.

Granoff served on the university’s Board of Trustees from 1998 to 2008 and is an honorary member of Tufts Hillel’s board of directors.

Tufts will award him an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree.