Oct 22 2012
Some 17,700 students, over half of whom are enrolled for advanced studies, began the new academic year on Sunday, 21 October, 2012 at the University of Haifa, about 300 students more than the previous year. The University recruited close to 50 new researchers over the summer, most of them scientists returning from abroad - bringing the number of researchers at the University to about 600, an all-time record for our University. “As every leading research university does, the University of Haifa has always considered excellent academic research and teaching its primary goal,” University President Amos Shapira said as he met with students and faculty around the campus.
The walk-around offered an opportunity for Shapira to meet with none other than his own lecturer from 30 years back, Prof. Arie Melnik. Upon taking office as President of the University, Shapira said that he is coming full circle, returning to the academic institution where he completed his B.A. studies. Meeting with Prof. Melnik, Shapira came full circle a second time, not only as the professor’s former student but also as his teaching assistant.
Melnik and Shapira shared memories from classes and work together. “That was a remarkable generation; after studying, these students would enter the most senior positions, not only in the business sector but also in education and security. But Amos was my best student,” said Melnik. “That’s obvious - I chose him to be my teaching assistant.” Shapira reminded Melnik how at the end of his third year of studies, Melnik asked him, “What will you do with all the theoretical knowledge that you have amassed here?” Now, 30 years on, it looks like the answer is quite clear. As the amiable meeting drew to an end, Shapira reminded Melnik that he still has two credit points for which he never received a grade even though he passed the exams for them with great success. “If we owe credit points, we should settle the debt right away. I am going to look into it in the archives,” Melnik replied in good humor.
The University is continuing, as in recent years, to open new advanced programs that are taught in English, which are open to students from home and abroad. This year, the University is offering eight full M.A. programs taught in English: Holocaust Studies, Maritime Civilizations, Creative Arts Therapies, Patent Law, Business Management, Risk Management and Insurance, Peace and Conflict Management, and the International Judges program; with the goal of offering twenty such programs within the next three years.
The University of Haifa continues to reflect Israeli society. Jews and Arabs, new immigrants and veteran Israelis, secular and religious, city people and kibbutz members all study together, and this year the University is also continuing to provide the primary academic training for the senior officers of Israel’s security forces’, alongside civilians. All are studying together in an atmosphere of respect and coexistence, creating a fascinating human mosaic. “Excellence in research and teaching is central to every research university. But besides that and unrelated to any political opinion, the University of Haifa values the responsibility of creating a shared experience and bridging social gaps. The University, which is the largest in the northern region besides the Technion, also has a central role in preventing Israel from becoming an overall extension of the central region. This is a distinctive strategic contribution to the State of Israel,” said Shapira.
This year many new M.A. programs will be opened, among them: Women’s and Gender Studies; three study tracks in the School of Criminology; Literary Editing and Translation in the Department of Hebrew and Comparative Literature; and Film Culture. These new programs join the ranks of the unique courses already available at the University and which include a multidisciplinary program in Early Education and Development; Alternative Education Research; and a course on Autism and Developmental Disorders.
New departments that have been opened at the University of Haifa have also led to a shift in the areas of highest demand. The traditional in-demand courses, such as Law, Economics, and Psychology, have been joined by areas such as Nursing, Occupational Therapy, Social Work, and Medical Sciences. The highest demand in M.A. programs is for Psychology, Creative Arts Therapies, Counseling and Human Development, Social Work, Israel Studies, and Contemporary Judaism. Over the past two years, demand for teaching diplomas in various fields has also seen a notable increase.