Professor Peretz Lavie (right) with US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Prof. Peretz Lavie, president of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, was appointed to serve as the chairman of the Association of University Heads (VERA in Hebrew) in Israel.
Lavie will replace Hebrew University of Jerusalem president Prof. Menahem Ben-Sasson, who has acted as chairman for a two-and-a-half year term.
“Over the past two years, the Association of University Heads of Israel faced tasks and challenges both at home and abroad that threatened to damage the future and the status of higher education and research in Israel,” Ben-Sasson said on Sunday.
“Among the challenges were attempts to impose academic boycotts on Israeli university researchers; this alongside trends at home opposing participation in budgeting programs and scientific cooperation with the European Union. This in addition to attempts by political bodies to interfere and place political pressure on Israeli academia and its operational conduct,” he explained.
The association serves as a voluntary body founded by the heads of the research universities.
It aims to promote and improve the management of aspects of common interest to all the universities and present their common interests to decision-making bodies in the field of higher education, in an effort to improve and develop scientific research and standards of academic teaching.
“Scientific research at universities is a key growth engine for furthering development and strengthening the strategic status of the country. Our position among the world’s top research universities has been achieved through hard work in severely underfunded conditions,” said Lavie.
“The task of the Association of University Heads is to ensure that the government of Israel will work toward enabling the continued functioning of universities at the highest levels.
“Another key issue on the agenda is the subject of academic freedom at universities.
This freedom is a fundamental principle and the sine qua non for free inquiry, which has helped foster the high academic levels reached by Israeli universities. Ensuring it will be possible only if we continue to implement zero interference by political bodies attempting to violate these freedoms and impose a political agenda that is not conducted on the basis of academic and scientific standards of excellence,” he said.