My parents immigrated to Palestine from Poland in 1936. They were both 18 and met on the train to Constanta where they took a boat to Haifa. A few years earlier, the Nazis had come to power in Germany, winds of war blew through the continent and universities all over Europe were closing their gates to Jews. Coming from Zionist families, they chose Technion, a young technical school that opened its gates right here with 16 students only 12 years earlier.
Led by a handful of visionaries at the turn of the 20th century, the Technion has turned into a world-class research university. Few institutions, if any, have played such a pivotal role in the fate of a nation. From building roads and bridges, aircrafts and satellites to new technologies for healthcare, computers, security, and energy; wherever you look you can find a Technion fingerprint.
Today, the Technion is uniquely positioned to face the tremendous challenges lying ahead. The grand challenges of the 21st century – human health, energy, sustainability, advanced manufacturing and education require a multifaceted approach. We will restructure the Technion and expand our network of multidisciplinary research centers, to address these global challenges.
Education is undergoing a revolution and the Technion is reinventing itself in a world where there is an exponential growth of data and free access to knowledge. We will develop new teaching methodologies to train the scientific and technological leaders of the 21st century, and we will provide them with life-long education for a dynamic world. We will equip our students with leadership skills in entrepreneurship, ethics, and multi-culturalism.
Global industry is changing rapidly as it increasingly invests in its own advanced research programs. Universities are losing their traditional monopoly over basic research and simultaneously, society expects them to address real-life challenges. We will recruit many more affiliated faculty and mentors from industry, while streamlining technology transfer from Technion to society. We will create a new academia-industry eco-system.
These are all substantial challenges, but the role of academia goes beyond that. Technion will continue to serve as a beacon for pluralism, freedom of speech, integrity, social justice, and environmental consciousness – values that are constantly challenged across the globe. These values and the pursuit of truth are the breath of academic life and must be safeguarded.
I am deeply honored to serve today as the Technion’s 17th President. I humbly acknowledge the gravity of the mission lying ahead. I promise to do the utmost to lead this remarkable institution and take it to even greater heights as we approach the centennial since it opened its gates. As you may imagine, this is the closure of a personal journey for me; a journey that started 83 years ago with a girl and a boy aboard a ship approaching the port of Haifa.