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Lawrence connects with Israel

By Sara Dejene
On August 30, 2011

This summer, University President Frederick Lawrence and several administrators traveled to Israel to explore opportunities for collaboration in the sciences and to connect with education leaders, alumni and friends of the University in Israel, according to a June 12 BrandeisNOW press release.

The trip, which Lawrence wrote about on his blog, lasted from June 12 to 23. According to BrandeisNOW, Lawrence and his delegation visited several Israeli research universities as well as Al-Quds University, a Palestinian school that has campuses in the West Bank and Jerusalem. Brandeis has had a partnership with Al-Quds University since 2003 and staff and student exchanges since 2005. Lawrence met with Al-Quds University President Sari Nusseibeh and later met with Hebrew University President Menachem Ben-Sasson, according to Lawrence's blog.

Lawrence wrote that he and Ben-Sasson discussed opportunities for collaboration between Brandeis and Hebrew University, "such as ways in which faculty members from both schools can work together to pursue shared interests."

At the University of Haifa, Lawrence wrote that his meetings "[held] seeds for potential collaborative efforts in faculty research and student exchanges."

Lawrence's wife Kathy Lawrence; Vice President for Global Affairs and Director of the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life Dan Terris; Associate Director of the University's Office of Development and Alumni Relations Ruth Aronson; Provost-elect Steve A.N. Goldstein; Prof. Seth Fraden (PHYS); Prof. Lizbeth Hedstrom (BIOL); and Associate Provost for Innovation Irene Abrams accompanied Lawrence on his trip.

In addition, Lawrence wrote on his blog that he and his delegation visited several Israeli high schools.

"[W]e shared the Brandeis vision with some of Israel's most inquisitive and energized—I dare say, Brandeisian—students," wrote Lawrence.

According to his blog, Lawrence also visited Yemin Orde Youth Village, where refugees from Darfur, Sudan and Ethiopia live and study. Lawrence wrote that the village instills a sense of community among students and helps them continue to graduate schools and some of the "highest positions" in various fields in Israel.

During his trip, Lawrence also spoke as part of the Israeli Presidential Conference in a forum titled "The Universities of Tomorrow," according to BrandeisNOW. On his blog, Lawrence wrote that he presented what he called the "Brandeis vision" of preparing students for both the immediate job market and for the next generation.

According to his blog, at the same event, Lawrence also spoke alongside former Chief Justice of Israel's Supreme Court Aharon Barak about freedom of speech in both Israel and the United States.

Lawrence wrote that this discussion would be a "model for future Brandeis-Israel collaborations."

According to his blog, Lawrence hosted two events for alumni in Israel, one in Jerusalem and one in Tel Aviv.

"[I]t was inspiring to see the enthusiasm, spirit and support of Brandeis alumni on the ground in Israel," wrote Lawrence. "I know that these members of the Brandeis family will be very helpful to our efforts."

In an interview with the Justice, Lawrence said that Israel is an obvious partner for Brandeis. Lawrence also described his trip in an Aug. 17 email to the Brandeis community. "The trip was inspiring," wrote Lawrence, "and led to a strengthening of the historic ties between Brandeis and a wide range of institutions in Israel. ... This visit was an important step forward in our strategic initiative to build Brandeis into a true global liberal arts university."

Lawrence also wrote in his email that he is planning a similar trip to India this winter.

Angrew Wingens contributed reporting. 

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