Rector's Update | June 2021

28 June, 2021

June 28, 2021

Dear colleagues,

This is the final update for the 2020/2021 academic year. As usual, in this update I will report on faculty members who are retiring this year, as well as on the University’s new recruits, along with other updates.*

The obligation to wear a mask in closed areas has been renewed. Accordingly, it is obligatory to wear masks in classes and during the final exams. As of this writing final exams will be held on campus, as planned (except for exams for which it was previously determined that they will be held remotely). Students who seek exemption from coming to campus for exams should contact the Dean of Students’ Accessibility Unit.

1. New academic staff members. In accordance with the University's strategic plan, we aim to continue to significantly increase the number of faculty members at the University in the STEM sciences, and to increase the number of faculty members in the social sciences and humanities at a more moderate rate. Our goal is to absorb approximately 50 new faculty members each year (alongside the expected retirement of about 30 faculty members per year), of whom about 30 in STEM and 20 in the social sciences and humanities. Accordingly, over the past four years, the number of faculty members in the regular track in STEM has increased by about 10%, and in the social sciences and humanities it has increased by about 5%.

The current year has been excellent in terms of absorbing new faculty members in the social sciences and humanities (the units on Mount Scopus): almost all of the excellent candidates who received an offer from us accepted the offer. Quite a few of our new faculty members are not Israeli citizens and some of them are lateral appointments. A total of 24 new faculty members were approved this year (of whom 7 are women, about 29%), and 20 new faculty members will begin serving in 2021/2022 (the absorption of some of these faculty members was approved last year). Of these, 9 are women, constituting 45%, and 2 of the new recruits are Arabs.

In the STEM sciences, we have had a less successful year. We approved and absorbed 19 new faculty members (of whom 5 are women, constituting 26%) and 20 new faculty members will begin in 2021/2022 (of whom 4 are women, 20%). This means that we did not meet our multi-year goal of absorbing at least 30 new faulty members per year in STEM. This is due to a combination of two main factors: a relatively large number of candidates who received an offer from us this year accepted an offer from another university; and in certain units there is a lack of lab space and therefore we decided to make an offer only to particularly outstanding candidates. We will return to the usual number of new faculty members next year, as we complete the construction of new areas.

In total, the number of academic staff is expected to increase this year as well: the number of retirees by the end of the 2020/2021 academic year is 24 and at the beginning of the 2021/2022 academic year, there will be 40 new faculty members.







Social Sciences and Humanities—regular track






STEM—regular track






Total—regular track






Social Sciences and Humanities—other tracks






STEM—other tracks






Total academic staff







The appendix lists the names of the retirees and the names of the new recruits. This is an opportunity to thank the retirees for their contribution to the founding of our learning and research community and to its development, and for their contribution to the advancement of science and society. The University encourages our retirees to continue their academic activities, research and teaching, within the University. Best of luck to our retirees and to our new faculty members!

2. Promoting gender equality in our academic staff. As already reported in a previous update letter, there is a welcome increase in the proportion of women in the senior academic staff at the University. Among all faculty members in the regular academic track, we have seen an increase from about 26% five years ago, to about 32% today; and among full professors, an increase from about 16% five years ago to about 22% now (currently, the University has 73 women who are full professors and 253 men who are full professors). This means that we are still far from our goal of gender equality. New recruit data for 2021/2022 (13 women out of 40 new faculty members, constituting 32%) expresses, at best, stagnation. In light of this, the University has decided to implement a strategic program to promote gender equality. The program was prepared by a team led by Haya Loberboum-Galski, as part of the Council for Higher Education’s “Kav Mashve” initiative. This program is in addition to the vigorous activities carried out by a team of researchers from the Young Israeli Academy within the National Academy of Sciences. The University's “Kav Mashve” program sets goals for the promotion of equality and a series of practical steps in this regard. The program (in Hebrew) is available here. Please review it and make suggestions for additional measures to take. Many thanks to Haya for her vigorous leadership of the University's activities in this critical field. Alongside this goal, certain measures are being taken to promote diversity and equality at the University, efforts led by the Vice President for Diversity and Strategy and the Head of the Diversity Unit in the Rector's Office.

By the way, among recipients of doctoral degrees at the upcoming doctoral degree graduation ceremony (to be held on July 8 at the Mount Scopus amphitheater), 46% are women (when accounting for both fields): in the social sciences and humanities 86 women (out of 189) and in the STEM sciences 90 women (out of 194).

3. New office-holders. The University has ten deans, who head the faculties and independent schools. The deans are elected by faculty members of the academic unit. In the coming weeks, four new deans will take office: Nissim Otmazgin, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities; Asher Ben-Arieh, Dean of the School of Social Work; Avi Zini, Dean of the Faculty of Dental Medicine; and Sarah Cohen, Dean of the School of Computer Sciences. A new director of the School of Pharmacy, Boaz Tirosh, has also been elected. Good luck to the new deans and many thanks to the deans who concluded a successful tenure: Mona Khoury-Kassabri in Social Work; Noam Nisan in Computer Sciences; Michael Segal in the Humanities; Aaron Palmon in Dental Medicine; and Avi Domb in Pharmacy.

Along with the four newly elected deans, the tenure of two deans has been extended: Dina Ben Yehuda in Medicine; and Benny Chefetz in Agriculture. Four other deans are continuing their term: Nicole Adler in Business Administration; Daphna Lewinsohn-Zamir in Law; Assaf Friedler in Natural Sciences; and Tamir Sheafer in Social Sciences. The Dean of Students, Guy Harpaz, will also be continuing his position for another term.

Additional appointments: At the Inter-University Institute of Marine Sciences in Eilat, Jaap van Rijn from the Faculty of Agriculture completed a successful tenure as the Institute's Scientific Director, and Nir Keren from the Institute of Life Sciences has been appointed as the new Director. The Chairs of the Authority for Research Students are completing an excellent term of office (Zach Adam in experimental sciences and Brouria Bitton-Ashkelony in the social sciences and humanities). The new Chairs are Aaron Palmon and Miriam Schiff.

Along with the Vice Presidents who are continuing their terms, a new Vice President for Strategy and Diversity has been appointed, Mona Khoury-Kassabri. Vice Rector Berta Levavi-Sivan is ending a successful term and the new Vice Rector is Avi-Hai Hovav. Lilach Sagiv continues as Vice Rector. I will be continuing a fifth year in office as Rector.

4. New members of the National Academy of Sciences. Last week, seven new members were elected to the National Academy of Sciences, including three faculty members from our University: Yinon Ben-Neriah from the Faculty of Medicine, Muhammad Haj-Yahia from the School of Social Work and Maren Niehoff from the Faculty of Humanities. Of the 138 members of the academy today, 59 are faculty members (active or retired) of the Hebrew University (43%). Congratulations to Yinon, Muhammad and Maren on this important recognition of their excellent scientific contributions.

Award Winners. Mona Khoury-Kassabri, Dean of the School of Social Work, is the winner of this year's Bruno Award, presented by Yad Hanadiv; Naomi Habib of the Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences and Guy Katz of the School of Computer Sciences are this year's Krill Prize laureates (the Krill Prizes are awarded by the Wolf Foundation); Hanoch Gutfreund, of the Institute of Physics and former President and Rector of the Hebrew University, was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Free University of Berlin. Congratulations to all of the winners!

Five of the University's researchers have won the Alon scholarship by the Planning and Budget Committee (out of the 25 scholarships awarded this year): Ilya Soloveytchik, Department of Statistics and Data Science, the Faculty of Social Sciences; Renana Keydar, Law Faculty and the Center for Digital Humanities in the Faculty of Humanities; Hannah Luk-Zilberman from the Economics Department in the Faculty of Social Sciences; Daphna Nachmani from the Institute of Life Sciences in the Faculty of Natural Sciences; and Or Hershkovits from the Einstein Institute of Mathematics in the Faculty of Natural Sciences. In addition, Iyas Nasser won a Maof Scholarship from the Planning and Budget Committee. Nasser will be joining the Department of Arabic Language and Literature in the Faculty of Humanities. Best of luck!

5. The opening of a center at the University for teaching physics in high schools. As part of the University's contribution to the community, in collaboration with the Jerusalem Municipality, the Schwartz-Reisman Center for Physics Teaching in Jerusalem High Schools now operates at our Safra campus. The Center works with a teacher-researcher program that operates at the University, in which science teachers serve as researchers in research laboratories, part-time. The Center is designed to encourage high school students to study physics, by concentrating teaching in one place, with high-level teachers and advanced teaching laboratories. This Program works alongside a variety of programs run by the Hebrew University Youth Division, including Youth Science Programs, the Future Scientists Project and the Belmonte Science  Laboratories Center.

6. Accommodations for students with disabilities. The Hebrew University is committed to ensuring equal opportunities for people with disabilities. Most of the activity in this field is done under the auspices of the Dean of Students Office and its Accessibility Unit. Among other things, we operate the Learning Center for the Blind on the Mount Scopus campus (in collaboration with the Aleh Association), which assists about 150 students a year and also offers a pre-academic preparatory course for about 30 students. A unique academic and social assistance program is operated for students on the autistic spectrum who are studying at the University. In addition, there is an extensive program for accommodations for students with learning disabilities (I recommend watching the fantastic video produced by the Accessibility Unit, in which students with learning disabilities, studying at the Hebrew University, speak about themselves and the challenges they face; here).

The Accessibility Unit, led by Liat Tzarfati, is also responsible for training members of the administrative and academic staff regarding our duty (both by virtue of the University's vision and by virtue of the law) to offer reasonable accommodations to ensure equal opportunities for people with disabilities. In the coming weeks, training on the subject will be offered in all academic units. For any questions or concerns, please consult the staff of the accessibility unit, which operates on all four major campuses.


A hearty thank you for all of your hard work during the 2020-2021 academic year, including coping with the many challenges we faced. The University has become a very sought after place to teach, study and research by faculty members and degree candidates. We are in this position solely thanks to you, members of the administrative and academic staff, thanks to your excellent work, your professionalism, your humanity and generosity. I wish you a fruitful and successful summer.

Kind regards,

Barak Medina, Rector


* All updates are available here.