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A delegation of officials from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, arrived here this week on a mission organized by the Israel-Australia Chamber of Commerce.
One of Australia's largest universities, Monash recently received a major endowment from Australian-Jewish philanthropist Lee Liberman to establish three research chairs in the university's Center for Jewish Studies: In addition to the foundation Chair of Jewish Civilization, there will be three additional research chairs in Jewish Thought and Literature, Modern Israel Studies, and Contemporary Jewish Life and Culture. Each research position will be filled for a period of up to five years by visiting scholars.
"Monash University intends to make a major commitment to the study of Jewish civilization and of modern Israel," said university President Richard Larkins.
Prof. Andrew Marcus, who headed the delegation to Israel, told The Jerusalem Post that the university aspired to become a significant world center for the study of Judaism. Currently, Marcus is the only professor of Jewish Studies in Australia.
During their visit, members of Monash University met with a series of prominent Israeli scholars to recruit potential visiting academics.
"In addition to the chairs, we also want to create a visiting scholars program and an artists in residence program, so that we have a vibrant center of Jewish studies and can bring together stop scholars to interact with one another and with the community, as well as with top universities overseas," Marcus said.
The first visiting Israeli scholar, Uri Bialer, of the International Relations department at the Hebrew University, will arrive at the university in July and launch its Modern Israel program.