Ben-Gurion U. names Israel's first female university president

Prof. Rivka Carmi, formerly the first female dean of an Israeli medical school at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beersheba, has made history again by being elected the first woman president of an Israeli university. Carmi, a pediatrician and geneticist, was chosen unanimously by BGU's executive committee, which approved a recommendation by a search committee. Carmi replaces Prof. Avishay Braverman, who recently announced that he was going on leave to join the Labor Party under MK Amir Peretz and go into politics. Braverman, who has already served several terms as president, was not eligible to continue past this term anyway. Braverman lauded the decision, saying Carmi was a suitable candidate and a leading scientist in her field and had great leadership capacity. "The university lends great importance to leadership in the academic world, and the choice [of Carmi] as president of BGU is a clear expression of that," he said. Carmi, a graduate of the Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School, studied her specialty of pediatrics and subspecialty of neonatology at Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheba. She went for post-doctoral study at Harvard University Medical School and then returned to run Soroka's genetic institute and to simultaneously hold various academic posts at BGU's Health Sciences Faculty. In 2000, she became the faculty's dean and continued for five years. Since then she has been on sabbatical abroad. Much of Carmi's research has focused on the Beduin community in the Negev. She has written over 100 scientific articles in the field of medical genetics, including a description of 10 newly discovered genes and three new genetic syndromes (including one named for her). She has also received numerous awards. Meanwhile, Prof. Jimmy Weinblatt was given an additional term as BGU's rector, a position that he has held for four years. Born in Alexandria, Egypt, he has degrees in economics and political science, is married and a father of three.