Yanai Prize for Excellence in Academic Education

Ten Technion Faculty Members Receive the Yanai Prize for Excellence in Academic Education

The Faculty of Physics receives the Outstanding Faculty Award

The Yanai Prize for Excellence in Academic Education was awarded to ten Technion faculty members and to the Faculty of Physics at an awards ceremony held on February 17, 2015. The awards ceremony was attended by the Yanai family, who endowed the prize, award recipients and their families, and Technion lecturers and students. This is the fourth year in a row that the prestigious prize has been awarded: “In appreciation of faculty members, who set an example through their endless contributions to teaching and learning and for their efforts to improve student involvement and sense of belonging to the Technion.”

The ten recipients are:

  • Assoc. Prof. Reuven Bar-Yehuda,
  • Assoc. Prof. Mark Gandelman,
  • Prof. Eddy Mayer-Wolf,
  • Assoc. Prof. Eran Yahav,
  • Prof. Guedi Capeluto,
  • Asst. Prof. Yizhar Or,
  • Prof. Dan Givoli,
  • Asst. Prof. Yiska Goldfeld,
  • Prof. Ester Segal,
  • Prof. Miles Rubin.
Moshe Yanai

Moshe Yanai

Additionally, the prize for Outstanding Faculty this year was awarded to the Faculty of Physics in recognition of the faculty’s championing of teaching excellence and academic services to all Technion students. “The award is in appreciation of the continuous contributions by academic, administrative and technical staff and for their efforts in leveraging and promoting the quality and excellence of academic education within the Faculty and at Technion, out of a desire to improve and foster a better learning and social environment at the university,” stated The Awards Committee.

“When you factor in all the information, it has been shown without a doubt, that the Yanai Prize for Excellence in Education has contributed to and greatly enhanced the process of improving the quality of education at the Technion. The 140 new faculty that joined the institute in the last few years have become a part of a new Technion – a Technion where excellence in teaching holds a place of honor, alongside its world-class reputation for cutting-edge research.” said Technion President, Prof. Peretz Lavie. “In today’s Technion, recipients of the Yanai Prize are role models. The  honor of being a “Yanai Prizewinner” is today synonymous with a seal of approval for teaching excellence.”

The President was referring to the ongoing implementation of recommendations from the “Cohen Committee” to ease the academic workload: “All of the Committee’s recommendations were intended to lighten the pressure on our students without compromising academic excellence, which is our guiding principle. The 2014-15 Fall semester was the first semester of the new shortened format of 13 weeks. Shortening the term from 14 to 13 weeks was one of the Committee’s central recommendations. Together with this recommendation, we will continue to implement other major changes suggested by the Committee, such as upholding the highest standards for exam fairness, preventing overlap between tests and studies, and publicizing exam scores at the appointed time. These recommendations are designed to both enhance the quality of education and improve the quality of life for students at the Technion,” said the President.

Prof. Peretz Lavie with his wife Lina with Moshe and Rachel Yanai

Prof. Peretz Lavie with his wife Lina with Moshe and Rachel Yanai

The Senior Executive VP of the Technion, Prof. Moshe Sidi, noted that: “In teaching and education as in research, the Technion has made it a top priority to strive to be the best and the most professional. The common denominator for excellence in research and teaching is human capital and the leadership of our researchers and faculty. Innovative learning tools and conditions, as well as other technological aids are merely the means to an end in the hands of excellent educators. Excellence is a human quality, not subject tools. Ten such highly qualified teachers today receive  the Institute’s most prestigious honor for excellence in teaching.”

“Nearly every student I’ve spoken with has told me of a favorite class or lecturer they look forward to each week – a lecturer with a great ability to break out of the everyday mundane routine,” said Eyal Genis, Chairperson of the Student’s Association’s Academic Committee who was party to the selection process of the award winners. “Lecturers that can animate and breathe life into the content they are presenting, as opposed to merely reading through the motions of their prepared lectures; lecturers that make connections between the learning material and what can be expected in industry or research in future jobs; lecturers with a healthy sense of humor; lecturers that motivate students to take on an active role in their classes; lecturers that through their favorable attitude to their students are rewarded with their attention – these are the lecturers receiving awards today.”

Moshe Yanai is a global pioneer in the field of information storage Through his generous contribution and the establishment of the Yanai Prize, he sought to express his gratitude for the life skills he gained at Technion during his studies some 40 years ago. As his memories of life as a Technion student includes periods of difficulty, he decided to contribute 12 million dollars to award lecturers who have demonstrated teaching excellence, a gift that also greatly benefits Technion students. The prize, which awards 100 thousand Shekels to each recipient, will be given over a period of ten years.

In Moshe Yanai’s closing remarks he thanked the Technion for enabling him to give back to the academic community in a way that is both noteworthy and beneficial. “To sign the check is the easy part,” he said. “There is a consensus in the academic world about the importance of getting published in scientific journals. If you invest in publishing papers you are rewarded with personal recognition. Education, however, lacks a Nobel Prize, although the contributions to society are equally important. To me this is a worthy goal.”

Photographed by: Shiatzo Photography Services, Technion’s Spokesperson’s Office