Sethna Returns from Israel Visit

Friday, July 15, 2011

A group of university presidents from across the United States, including UWG President Beheruz N. Sethna and the leader of a major U.S. higher education association, traveled to Israel on an educational program sponsored by Project Interchange, an educational institute of the American Jewish Committee.

At right, Sethna is pictured with Israel President, Shimon Peres. (Photo by Yitzhak Harari/Israel Sun)At right, Sethna is pictured with Israel President, Shimon Peres. (Photo by Yitzhak Harari/Israel Sun)

The week-long program was designed by Project Interchange in consultation with the participating higher education heads. It was conducted in an intensive seminar format, offering the group broad exposure to the complex issues facing Israel and the region.

Strong thematic emphasis was given to higher education, and the delegation met with their executive counterparts at such institutions as Tel Aviv University, Hebrew University, Al Quds University, and Al-Qasemi College. They received in-depth briefings on state-of-the-art research initiatives being undertaken and discussed opportunities for academic exchange and research collaborations at the undergraduate, graduate, and faculty levels.

The delegation is met with senior government officials, including Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian National Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

In order to enhance academic ties with Israel among a wide cross-section of U.S. campuses, Project Interchange reached out to leaders of a diverse set of academic institutions, including large and small, public and private, liberal arts, and “up-and-coming” universities.

The 17-member delegation included:

  • J. Timothy Cloyd, President, Hendrix College
  • John Anderson Fry, President, Drexel University
  • Jeffrey Herbst, President, Colgate University
  • George E. Martin, President, St. Edward's University
  • Beheruz N. Sethna, President, University of West Georgia
  • Barbara R. Snyder, President, Case Western Reserve University
  • Holden Thorp, Chancellor, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • David Warren, President, National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities
  • Henry Yang, Chancellor, University of California, Santa Barbara

The seminar is being co-chaired by Presidents Snyder and Warren.

Sam Witkin, Executive Director of Project Interchange, said, “We are tremendously pleased to host this exceptional delegation of university leaders for their first of hopefully many trips to Israel. The world-class research and educational facilities at Israeli universities and colleges ... provide a fitting setting for great minds to share information, discuss research partnerships, and explore opportunities for mutually-beneficial collaboration.”

The group also participated in briefings by Israeli and Palestinian experts on a host of political and societal matters, including Israel’s diverse makeup and efforts toward interfaith co-existence. Justice Aharon Barak, former President of Israel’s Supreme Court, and Daniel Reisner, former Head of the International Law Department of the Israel Defense Forces, led discussions on various legal topics, including human rights and international law.

Recent Project Interchange delegations have included French and German political leaders, Chinese and Indian-American Academic leaders, Latina students, college newspaper editors, counter-terrorism experts from Europe and the United States, and journalists from across the world, with a coming seminar for leading figures of India’s film industry, or “Bollywood.”

Project Interchange, a non-profit institute of AJC (American Jewish Committee), develops and conducts educational seminars in Israel for current and emerging United States and international leaders. Founded in 1982, Project Interchange has brought over 5,000 influential figures to Israel from more than 60 countries, offering them broad exposure to the complex issues facing Israel and the region. To find out more information, check out the website at www.projectinterchange.org.