President and faculty traveling to Israel seeking to enhance historic ties

Collaborations in science a particular goal of the 12-day trip

President Fred Lawrence and a group of Brandeis academic and administrative leaders are visiting Israel this month to develop opportunities for collaboration in science, connect with Israeli alumni and friends and raise the university's profile with students interested in studying in the United States.

The president is blogging about his experiences and observations during the trip, which is scheduled from June 12 through June 23.

Lawrence will be a featured guest at two scholarly forums, one with former Israeli Supreme Court President Aharon Barak on legal issues and one with internationally recognized leaders of higher education on "The Universities of Tomorrow."

The latter event is part of the Israeli Presidential Conference, an annual gathering under the auspices of President Shimon Peres that attracts approximately 3,500 people from around the world to the International Convention Center in Jerusalem. Among those appearing with Lawrence will be former Harvard President Larry Summers, University of California President Mark Yudof and Beijing University Executive Vice President Wu Zhipan.

"This trip is a wonderful opportunity to build on our historical connections with Israel," Lawrence said. "Its purpose is to enhance our engagement in a whole range of areas. We want to reach out to the science community, our alumni and friends, and to students who may be interested in what Brandeis can offer them. We have a lot of shared interests that we want to explore further.

"Brandeis faculty have many solid relationships with members of Israel's scientific community whose work has helped make Israel a superstar in developing new technology and finding practical applications that improve people's lives," Lawrence said. "The time is right to explore taking these relationships to a new, higher level of explicit collaborations and partnerships."

Faculty connections extend to most of the leading Israeli universities, including the Weizmann Institute, Tel Aviv University, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Technion – as the Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa is widely known – the Interdisciplinary Center, in Herzliya, and Ben Gurion University of the Negev.

To assist in the effort to make or enhance connections that could lead to new collaborations, newly appointed Provost Steve A.N. Goldstein, Physics Professor Seth Fraden, Biology Professor Lizbeth Hedstrom, Ph.D.'86, and Associate Provost for Innovation Irene Abrams will join the president's party for part of the trip.

Lawrence will meet with the presidents of Hebrew University, Tel Aviv University, the Technion and Haifa University, while the faculty members will meet with fellow scholars and researchers at these and other institutions.

The president's meetings with alumni and friends expand to the international level an effort he has pursued since being named Brandeis' eighth president to connect on a personal level with supporters of the university wherever they may be.

Lawrence's party includes his wife, Kathy; Dan Terris, vice president for global affairs and director of the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life; and Ruth Aronson, associate director of the university's Office of Development and Alumni Relations.

Their itinerary includes:

  • Al-Quds University, a Palestinian university with campuses in Jerusalem and the West Bank, with which Brandeis has an ongoing partnership. Brandeis faculty involved in the partnership will be working there at the time.
  • Yemin Orde Youth Village, which works with children and youth who immigrate to Israel unaccompanied. The village, in northern Israel, currently has a heavily Ethiopian population;
  • The Russian-speaking community in Tel Aviv, to strengthen the Israel ties of the Brandeis-Genesis Institute for Russian Jewry. This institute, which provides scholarships at Brandeis for students from Russian-speaking backgrounds, is sponsored by the Genesis Philanthropy Group, which also is active in Israel.
  • Sam Spiegel Film & Television School, in Jerusalem.

"Through the work of the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies and the Crown Center for Middle East Studies, Brandeis has become a leader internationally in academic study of Israel," Terris said.  "This trip is an opportunity to expand our connections in other fields, and to focus on making Brandeis a more visible option for those Israeli students who wish to study in the United States.

"We would like to strengthen all of our activities  -- research, study abroad, recruitment of students, relationships with alumni and friends," he said. "This is a model for the kinds of synergies that we expect to nurture through global Brandeis in other parts of the world as well."

Categories: International Affairs, Science and Technology

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