Pioneering sleep expert named next Technion head

Prof. Peretz Lavi, 60, is currently vice president for external relations and resource development.

technion 224.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
technion 224.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Prof. Peretz Lavie, a psychologist and pioneer of Israeli sleep medicine, has been elected president of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, replacing Prof. Yitzhak Apeloig, who has completed two four-year terms. The 60-year-old Lavie, a former dean of the Technion's Rappaport Medical Faculty, was born in Petah Tivka and grew up in Zichron Ya'acov. His wife, Dr. Lena Lavie, is a senior Technion researcher. They have two daughters, a son and two grandchildren. His current position is vice president for external relations and resource development. He established the country's first sleep lab to diagnose sleep disorders in 1979, when the field was embryonic, and also participated in the opening of Harvard University's own sleep lab in Boston. He was chosen by the academic executive on Wednesday from among about a dozen candidates, who originally numbered more than twice as many. The Technion's board of directors will formally approve the decision in June. Among Lavie's many achievements were the cancellation of "zero hour" classes in schools due to poor functioning by pupils early in the morning; and the use of the "Silent Channel" on radio during the First Gulf War, so that it could be left open without disturbing people's sleep and sounding a siren only when there was actual danger. He is the author of the best-selling book The Wonderful World of Sleep and seven others, as well as more than 300 publications in medical journals. In the 1980s, he struggled for the initiation of Summer Time, which saves lives, money and leisure time. At a meeting of the executive during which his election was announced, Lavie said that the presidency begins during an "eclipse" in which a major global economic slump coincides with an "unbelievable crisis" in the universities. During the first seven "fat years" of this decade, the Technion raised $600 million for development and research; now there will be "seven lean years," he stressed. Lavie said he was very disturbed by the drastic reduction in the status of academic institutions and faculty, and that they have been hit by criticism from the state comptroller, politicians and journalists that they are "arrogant" and demand "excessive" academic freedom and privileges without them being praised for their massive contribution to the country's security, health, science and economic power. Due to under budgeting, the number of faculty members has "reached the black line and cannot go lower," he said.