Hebrew University of Jerusalem welcomed in a new chairman of the board of governors Tuesday at the 69th annual meeting of the university's board that has brought many of the more than 200 members from around the world to the capital this week.
Charles H. (Corky) Goodman of Chicago was elected chairman, succeeding attorney Yigal Arnon, who has been serving in the post for the past six years. Goodman is the third person to hold the position.
"I consider Hebrew University one of the most outstanding higher education institutions in Israel and one of the best in the world," Goodman, who previously served as president of the Council of Jewish Federations in North America (1990-93) and as chairman of the Jewish Agency Board of Governors from 1995-99, told The Jerusalem Post following his election to the position.
"I want to contribute to its growth and help the university continue to contribute to the growth of the State of Israel." Now in his 70s, Goodman, who earned the nickname Corky from his grandfather, was born into a life of philanthropy and has worked with Jewish causes for the past 50 years. "Both my family and that of my first wife are prominent Jewish families in Chicago who are involved in traditional philanthropy. It was not difficult for me to also become involved," explained Goodman.
As well as his work with the Jewish Federation and the Jewish Agency, Goodman has also actively supported a broad array of Jewish causes both here and in the US. The United Jewish Appeal, the Joint Distribution Committee and Brandies University are just some of the other institutions that have utilized Goodman's skills.
"Frankly I think I personally have got more out of [being a philanthropist] than I have put in," said Goodman, who is also vice chairman of Henry Crown and Company and serves on the board of General Dynamics Corporation.
"These activities have allowed me to feel that I have made some contribution to the growth of the State of Israel, obviously I don't live here and I did not fight here, so in my own way I have tried to make a contribution. I feel like I have gained a lot and I hope my work has made some people's lives better."
As for his rise to the prestigious post at Hebrew University, Goodman remains humble. "There are more than 200 people on the board of governors, most of whom are probably more qualified than me to do this job but they wanted me, I am still not quite sure why," said Goodman, adding "I assume that my experience and my contacts are part of why I was chosen." Goodman said that he has already met with outgoing chairman Yigal Arnon to find out more about the institution and what issues need to be addressed.
"Obviously there are problems here that I might be able to help with," said Goodman, giving fund-raising and strengthening of the university's friends group as examples of areas he would like to focus on. Goodman also talked about increasing the number of foreign students and improving upon the university's high level of faculty.
"Due to declining government support, all [universities in Israel] face great difficulties maintaining their budgets. Anyone joining the faculty here has to make a great financial sacrifice," noted Goodman. "But we need to make higher education more competitive here by making it attractive to faculty members from around the world. It is not an easy situation." Raising awareness of the university's struggles and raising funds for it when there are so many other Jewish and Israeli organizations competing for funds will be a challenge agreed Goodman.
"In some ways it is a bigger challenge than what I have done before," said Goodman. "However, in other ways this is an institution that has a good reputation and needs support so that it can continue to turn out the kind of leaders who are the best."