The Jerusalem-based Shalem Center think tank got a step closer to realizing its
dream of establishing Israel’s first liberal arts college, thanks to a $12.5
million grant from the Tikva Fund, the center announced on Tuesday.
grant, which will be spread out over the first four years of the college’s
operation, puts the college more than halfway towards its goal of raising
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Currently, the college is going through the multi-year
accreditation process with the Council of Higher Education, and is on track to
open in fall 2012.
“This is a major vote of confidence by a leading
foundation which has been long supportive of innovative initiatives in higher
education,” Martin Kramer, Shalem Center president- designate, told The Jerusalem
on Tuesday in a phone call from the US, where he is on a month-long lecture
and fundraising tour.
Robert Hertog, a major New York Jewish
philanthropist, is the chairman of the Tikvah Fund, which has supported the
Shalem Center for over a decade.
“We try to invest in the people who are
conceiving the best ideas, in the institutions that are transmitting them, and
in the young minds that are receiving them,” Hertog said in a statement
announcing the grant.
The Shalem Center envisions an American-style
liberal arts college in Jerusalem for students with expertise in a specific
field but who lack a broader understanding of concepts, said Kramer, who was a
professor at Tel Aviv University for more than 25 years.
understand that Israeli universities are too narrowly educating their students,
and that it doesn’t prepare them for all challenges they will face as leaders,”
Kramer said. “The workforce today demands flexibility and a range of
The Shalem College plans to offer a core curriculum, meaning in
a four-year degree, 50 percent of the classes will be taken by all of the
students. It plans to offer general studies in economics, sciences, history and
Islamic studies, among other subjects, and provide a wide range of classes that
encourage students to think critically and use tools from a variety of
The private college will be totally dependent on private
donations and tuition, and will not ask the state for the per-student allotment
given to other institutions of higher learning. The college hopes to have
50 to 100 students per class in the first few years, eventually expanding to
1,000 students. Tuition will be on-par with other private colleges, said
Kramer, which range from NIS 10,000 to 30,000 per year.
consider Shalem Center a right-wing institution, Kramer bristles at the
classification and insists that the center will “encourage diversity of
The Shalem Center also received a commitment from Jerusalem
Mayor Nir Barkat to create a campus on the site of the Nature Museum in the
German Colony neighborhood, Kramer said.
The school will operate for at
least the first few years in the Shalem Center building, which is also located
in the German Colony.