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April 1, 2015

To the Hebrew University Community, Employees, students, alumni, friends and supporters

Dear All,

Ninety years ago today (7 Sivan, 5685, April 1, 1925), the opening ceremony of the Hebrew University took place. The ceremony was held in the amphitheater on Mount Scopus in the presence of some seven thousand people: local residents and others from abroad including heads of state, clergy members, military personnel, British administration, government officials, and delegations and researchers from other universities.

The vision of the founders of our University was unique: to establish a scientific institution that would serve as the first national institution in the land of Israel; a university that pursues the universal values of science together with a unique Hebrew University in the land of Israel; a center of research built within the British Empire in the spirit of the West while being firmly rooted in the Middle East. This dialectic between the international and the local was also expressed in the architectural language of the campus buildings.

The University’s founding fathers were aware of the national and social tensions of the region in general, and in the city of Jerusalem in particular, and the burden of financing the University was a central theme in the discussions. All those involved in establishing the University resolved not to miss the opportunity to embark on this mission despite the complex challenges involved.

Looking back over the past 90 years, it is clear that the vision of the University’s founding fathers, expressed in their speeches and in numerous publications, has been realized above and beyond their expectations. The Hebrew University has produced generations of scholars who have opened new worlds through modern scientific research methods and educated thousands of students. The University was an equal partner among thought leaders in universities and research centers around the world, led the development of research and higher education in Israel, and assisted in building three research universities – Tel Aviv, Ben-Gurion of the Negev, and Haifa – that have achieved international status. Thanks to the vision of Hebrew University’s founders and the determination of their successors, we have succeeded in making rigorous scientific investigation an integral part of common parlance in Israel. These research achievements are enjoyed by members of the Hebrew University community and the citizens of the State of Israel, and pave the way for bold partnerships worldwide.

Today, too, we remain loyal to the basic principles of the founding vision: rigorous scientific inquiry along with service to society through research. In addition, we must  serve as an exemplar of a multi-cultural, pluralistic, socially aware community characterized by mutual respect and cooperation.

As we face the upcoming decades, we emphasize our determination to continue to be the leading research university in Israel and amongst the top universities worldwide, by creating new, cutting-edge research knowledge that pushes frontiers of science and advances society and by preserving and managing it; by high quality teaching that trains the leaders of tomorrow; and by strengthening interdisciplinary research and teaching in order to position the University as a leader in the international academic community.

Together with this, in the coming years we will make a supreme effort to position the University on a robust organizational and budgetary foundation, in the service of science. We expect that the discourse of mutual contribution between the University and the State will also find expression in budgetary allocations.

Even as we celebrate the University today, it is not sufficient to declare goals and define far-off aspirations and dreams.  The mission of actualizing the renewal of the University is a task that is incumbent upon each and every one of us.

Thank you for promoting research and teaching, and for advancing the University in the spirit of its founders.  We hope that the generations that come after us will take pride in our legacy as we take pride and are graced by the legacy of those who came before us.

Wishing you a Chag Pessach Sameach,

 

Menahem Ben-Sasson