Hebrew University President Prof. Menahem Ben-Sasson Appointed New Chairperson Of Committee Of University Heads

Replaces outgoing chairperson, Ben Gurion University President Prof. Rivka Carmi

Jerusalem, November 25, 2012—The presidents of Israel’s research universities have appointed Prof. Menahem Ben-Sasson, president of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, as the new chairperson of the Committee of University Heads of Israel. Ben-Sasson replaces the outgoing chairperson, Prof. Rivka Carmi, the president of Ben Gurion University of the Negev.

Prof. Ben-Sasson articulated several key objectives the Committee must address:

  • Strengthening the perception, among the public and decision-makers, of research universities as entities that bear strategic responsibility for the status of society and the state;
  • Ensuring essential cooperation between research universities as a cohesive joint force promoting important shared interests for the benefit of academic research in Israel;
  • Preparing for anticipated changes in the composition of the research student population as universities seek to attract diverse population groups;
  • Stabilizing the financial status of research universities after the “lost decade” of university funding, and providing for the implementation of promises to address this situation. Israel should commit to continuously and significantly advance higher education in general, and scientific research at universities in particular, and to prioritize this issue accordingly. A one-time injection of funds, even if it comes, will not provide for substantive change;
  • Increasing universities' academic freedom. The committee rejects and denounces political pressure and interference in academia intended to harm academic freedom and politicize the academy. Academic institutions operate based on criteria of academic excellence and a desire for scientific achievement, and they must continue to conduct themselves in this way.

The Committee is also changing personnel at the director general level, as its director general Moti Cohen, the director general of Tel Aviv University, completes his term and David Bareket, the director general of Ben Gurion University, assumes the post.

Outgoing chairperson Prof. Carmi said, “We should not underestimate what a long-term budgetary program and striving for excellence can achieve, but they are not sufficient to rehabilitate a system that has experienced a lost decade. The next chairperson will face important responsibilities. I wish Prof. Ben-Sasson and the new head of the director general forum, Mr. David Bareket, great success in their roles. I thank Moti Cohen, the director general of Tel Aviv University and the Committee’s outgoing director general, who was an extraordinary partner and my right hand in managing the Committee.”