USC recently concluded an educational visit to Israel that explored the country’s advanced science and technology sector, strengthened ties to the research and teaching community, and produced high-level discussions with leaders in government, industry and cultural organizations.
With a delegation comprised of USC trustees, deans, faculty members and senior administrators, USC president C. L. Max Nikias, Niki C. Nikias and USC provost and senior vice president for academic affairs Elizabeth Garrett attended meetings with leaders and scholars from four prominent Israeli institutions of higher education: Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Tel Aviv University, the Weizmann Institute of Science and The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Technion president Peretz Lavie gave a private talk to the delegation on the historic partnership the organization is undertaking with Cornell University to build a “high-tech hub” in New York City at the invitation of New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg. The new campus will encompass 300,000 square feet on Roosevelt Island by 2017 and more than 2 million square feet by 2037.
At the Weizmann Institute of Science, vice president Haim Garty briefed delegation members on the structure of the institute, which focuses solely on research and graduate programs. Garty and the USC officials also discussed the current governmental-funding shift from basic science to technology transfer programs.
The USC delegation met with four Israeli faculty members who recently joined the Weizmann faculty after returning from the United States as postdoctoral researchers.
Meetings at Tel Aviv University and The Hebrew University gave the delegation members insight into the importance of global education at these two universities as each institution described efforts to diversify Israeli students’ experiences and attract students from around the world for scholarly exchanges.
The visit also provided an opportunity to explore the relationship between government priorities, private industry and research, as President Nikias and the delegation met with a diverse leadership group that included Shimon Peres, the president of Israel; Joseph “Yossi” Vardi, chairman of International Technologies Ventures and one of Israel’s high-tech veterans; Manuel Trajtenberg, an economist who is chairman of the Planning and Budgeting Committee of the Council for Higher Education in Israel; Eyal Fruchter, head of the mental health department of the Israeli Defense Force Medical Corps; Eran Lerman, deputy national security adviser of Israel’s National Security Council; and Isaac Ben-Israel, an Israeli military scientist and chairman of the Israeli Space Agency and the National Council for Research and Development.
The visit also included several outings to cultural institutions, including The Israel Museum, where one of the major exhibitions includes a show by USC Roski School of Fine Arts faculty member Sharon Lockhart that captures the work of the Israeli movement and dance theorist Noa Eshkol. Later in the evening, the delegation explored the Charlotte Bergman House, home to the legendary 20th century art patron’s extensive collection of modern art.
The USC delegation concluded the visit with a special tour to Yad Vashem, the world’s largest repository of information on the Holocaust. Accompanied by USC Shoah Foundation Institute executive director Stephen Smith, the Nikiases met Holocaust survivor Asher Ud, who shared his testimony of his childhood experiences in the Lodz Ghetto of Poland.
The Nikiases participated in a memorial ceremony to honor those lost in the Holocaust, laying a wreath in Yad Vashem’s Hall of Remembrance.
For more information on the journey to Israel, view the newsletters from Haifa, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, view the photos on Flickr, read the remarks given by President Nikias at Yad Vashem, or read the article from The Jewish Journal.