Technion President Peretz Lavie Elected to Historic 3rd Term

May 17, 2017
Kevin Hattori

The Technion Academic Committee, comprised of all full professors, has approved the continuation of President Prof. Peretz Lavie’s term in office by a large majority. The decision, which extends his office to a third term, was unanimously approved yesterday by the Technion Executive Committee. The decision must also be ratified by the Board of Governors, which will convene next month.

Technion President Professor Peretz Lavie

Prof. Lavie will be the first President in the history of the Technion to be elected to a third term and serve for a total of 10 years. He took up the post in 2009, and recently assented to a request by the Technion Executive Committee to extend his term in office by another two years. He did so out of a desire to complete a number of strategic development projects at the Technion campus in Haifa and the need to establish Technion’s branches in New York and China.

“I see the position of Technion President as the most important mission in my academic life,” said Prof. Lavie. “I will continue to work with all my might so that the glorious institution we are all so proud of will develop and thrive.”

During Prof. Lavie’s current term in office (2009-2017), the Technion recorded impressive achievements led by the recruitment of more than 200 new faculty members. “Outstanding faculty members are the most important asset of any university,” said Prof. Lavie. “The quality of the Technion and its future status will be determined first and foremost by the quality of its faculty members.”

The new faculty members, whose recruitment involved the extensive recruitment of resources, are mostly young and were selected based on excellence in research. The increase in the number of faculty members was accompanied by a significant increase in the number of publications in the world’s leading scientific journals. In 2016, Technion was ranked 26th in the world in the “Rising Stars” list, published by the leading scientific journal Nature, following a 40% increase in the Technion’s publications in leading scientific journals. In a span of eight years on the Shanghai ranking (the world’s leading index of academic institutions), the Technion shot up from rank 101-152 worldwide to 69th place in 2016: the top of Israel’s universities. These rankings, along with a significant increase in the awarding of research grants, attest to the Technion’s academic excellence and the research achievements of its faculty members.

The research world, in Prof. Lavie’s view, is changing. In the past, a scientist could carry out research and achieve breakthroughs on his own, but now significant research requires interdisciplinary cooperation. “The walls between disciplines, faculties, and fields of research are collapsing,” explains Prof. Lavie. “Future achievements in science and engineering will require cooperation between laboratories and researchers from different fields. In order to achieve significant scientific and engineering breakthroughs, enormous knowledge is now required — knowledge that an individual scientist does not possess.” For this reason, the Technion has worked to establish interdisciplinary centers where researchers from different faculties work together. These centers include research institutes such as the Technion Integrated Cancer Center (TICC), the Quantum Engineering Center, the Cyber Security Research Center, and the Technion Computer Engineering Center (TCE), in addition to the Excellence Centers of the Council for Higher Education that have been established at the Technion.

The number of students at the Technion is growing steadily. In the past eight years, their numbers have increased from 12,665 (2009-2010) to 14,121 (2016-2017). In addition, there has been a 30% increase in the number of graduate students (master’s and doctoral).

Since becoming President, Prof. Lavie has worked to change the atmosphere at the Technion and its image as a rigid institution that is not sufficiently considerate of its students. Under his leadership, a committee was established to examine the structure of studies and academic load at the Technion, headed by Prof. Yachin Cohen of the Faculty of Chemical Engineering. The committee’s recommendations, which were implemented in conjunction with the Technion Student Association (TSA), included many changes aimed at improving teaching at the Technion. In addition, in 2012 Prof. Lavie instituted the Yanai Prize for Excellence in Academic Education, with the generous donation of Technion alumnus Moshe Yanai. The prize, which is awarded in recognition and appreciation of faculty members who set an example by their contributions to teaching and learning, has already become synonymous with excellence in teaching at the Technion, and has been awarded to 62 faculty members and three faculties.

Along with improvements in teaching, the Technion is also investing heavily in developing the infrastructure that serves students on campus. The boom includes the construction of dorms, classrooms, and study halls, and spaces designated for social, cultural, and sports activities. Thanks to the enormous investment in building student dorms and renovating existing ones, the Technion is now the leading academic institution in Israel in terms of housing solutions (beds) offered to its students.

Another impressive achievement recorded by the Technion during Prof. Lavie’s time in office was the strengthening of its global standing. This achievement is reflected in the establishment of Technion branches in New York and China, and in strategic partnerships with leading universities around the world. In September 2017, Cornell Tech – home of the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute – will move to its new home on New York City’s Roosevelt Island. The Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute was established after Cornell University and the Technion jointly won the City of New York’s international competition, in which more than 50 leading universities from the US and around the world participated. The Technion is the first non-American university in the world to award its own academic degree on American soil.

Construction of the Technion-Guangdong Israel Institute of Technology, which will be inaugurated in China in December 2017, is nearing completion. The Institute, located near the Shantou University campus in the province of Guandong in southeastern China, will be a quality research university, with teaching and research programs in its initial years focused on environmental protection.

The Technion is also strengthening its international reputation through cooperation with leading universities around the world. The Technion International School accepts students from a variety of countries, and has significantly expanded its activities; the number of students has increased from 39 in 2009 to 700 in 2016.

These international projects place the Technion at the forefront of global research and constitute an important milestone in its progress toward achieving the Technion vision: becoming one of the world’s ten leading scientific-technological research universities in the development of human capital, leadership, and knowledge creation, which works to advance the State of Israel and humanity.

As stated, Prof. Lavie’s next term in office is intended to enable him to complete and strengthen these processes, which will advance the Technion in realizing its vision.

The Technion-Israel Institute of Technology is Israel’s leading science and technology university. Home to the country’s first winners of the Nobel Prize in science, it commands a worldwide reputation for its pioneering work in nanotechnology, computer science, biotechnology, water-resource management, materials engineering, aerospace and medicine. The majority of the founders and managers of Israel’s high-tech companies are alumni. Based in New York City, the American Technion Society (ATS) is the leading American organization supporting higher education in Israel, with offices around the country.