A New President for the Technion–Israel Institute of Technology

October 3, 2019
Kevin Hattori

Technion President Professor Uri Sivan: “Universities will have to reinvent themselves.”

Professor Uri Sivan took office as 17th president of Technion on October 1, 2019. He succeeded Professor Peretz Lavie, who ended a 10-year term in office.

Many VIPs attended an inauguration ceremony on September 29, including: Education Minister Rabbi Rafi Peretz; Haifa Mayor Dr. Einat Kalisch-Rotem; Nobel Prize Laureate in Chemistry, Distinguished Professor Aaron Ciechanover; Board of Governors Chair Scott Leemaster; Technion Council Chair Gideon Frank; former Technion presidents; management; and faculty members.

In his remarks, Prof. Sivan spoke about his parents, who immigrated to Israel from Poland in 1936 to study at the Technion after universities all over Europe closed their doors to Jews. His appointment as president, he noted, closes a personal circle for him.

Prof. Sivan continued, “The Technion today is stronger than ever, and we must leverage this to implement far-reaching reforms in our research structure, curricula, teaching methodologies, and collaboration with industry. The great challenges of the 21st century — human health, energy, environment, sustainability, advanced manufacturing, and education — require a multifaceted approach. Our success will be measured by our ability to create the necessary synergy to meet the challenges facing humanity. Education will change dramatically. All knowledge is at our fingertips, and universities will have to reinvent themselves in a world where information is accessible to all and updated exponentially.” He added, “The universal values of equality, pluralism, tolerance, freedom of speech, integrity, and the pursuit of truth, which are constantly challenged around the globe, are the breath of academic life and should be defended.”

Also speaking at the ceremony, Education Minister Rafi Peretz said, “I wish to thank the people of the Technion for all that they have done for the State of Israel. Our future is dependent on research and development in the exact sciences, technology, medicine, and architecture. You are the engine that drives all of this. Especially in these days of uncertainty, it is tremendously important to have islands of stability, excellence, and continuity like the Technion.”

Outgoing Technion President Prof. Lavie said, “I set three main goals when I entered office: massive recruitment of outstanding young faculty, dramatic improvement in the quality of teaching and attitude towards students, and turning the Technion into a global university. In the global context, we have expanded the Technion’s influence, and there is no doubt that the highlights were the establishment of the two new campuses in China and New York. In terms of improvement of teaching, the Technion has jumped from last place to first place among Israeli universities in student satisfaction. We also had tremendous success in recruiting new faculty members. Some 270 new faculty members joined the Technion ranks over the past decade, and they have made Technion younger and even more excellent. This is evident in the quantity and quality of scientific articles, research grants and prestigious awards.”

Nobel Laureate Distinguished Prof. Ciechanover said, “The Technion is the institution to which the State of Israel owes its very existence. The Technion is responsible for the two most important pillars on which the state stands: security and economy. The Technion must continue to lead in science and technology while also addressing ethics, since there is no technological invention without ethical consequences.”

Haifa Mayor Dr. Kalisch-Rotem thanked Prof. Lavie for his work on behalf of the city and its residents and presented him with a certificate of appreciation, which reads: “In appreciation of your exceptional and longstanding activity in promoting Technion as the leading institution in its field in Israel and in the world.”

Prof. Sivan, 64, a resident of Haifa, is married and the father of three. He served as a pilot in the Israeli Air Force, and joined the Faculty of Physics at Technion in 1991, where he holds the Bertoldo Badler Chair. His research over the years has covered a wide range of fields, including quantum mesoscopic physics, and the harnessing of molecular and cellular biology for the self-assembly of miniature electronic devices. Prof. Sivan has held a number of leadership positions both at Technion and on the national level. In addition to founding the Russell Berrie Nanotechnology Institute (RBNI), which he headed from 2005 to 2010, he has more recently headed the National Advisory Committee for Quantum Science and Technology.

For more than a century, the Technion–Israel Institute of Technology has pioneered in science and technology education and delivered world-changing impact. Proudly a global university, the Technion has long leveraged boundary-crossing collaborations to advance breakthrough research and technologies. Now with a presence in three countries, the Technion will prepare the next generation of global innovators. Technion people, ideas, and inventions make immeasurable contributions to the world, innovating in fields from cancer research and sustainable energy to quantum computing and computer science to do good around the world.

The American Technion Society supports visionary education and world-changing impact through the Technion–Israel Institute of Technology. Based in New York City, we represent thousands of US donors, alumni, and stakeholders who invest in the Technion’s growth and innovation to advance critical research and technologies that serve the State of Israel and the global good. Over more than 75 years, our nationwide supporter network has funded new Technion scholarships, research, labs, and facilities that have helped deliver world-changing contributions and extend Technion education to campuses in three countries.