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Emory delegation explores academic collaborations and connects with students and alums in Israel
Group photo in Tel Aviv

President Gregory L. Fenves and members of Emory's Global Strategy and Initiatives and Advancement and Alumni Engagement offices visited Israel to enhance partnerships with Israeli universities and foster connections with Emory's current students, parents and alumni in the country. Before departing, the delegation dined with a group of nearly 30 students at the Tel Aviv port.

Earlier this summer, Emory University President Gregory L. Fenves embarked on a trip to Israel, accompanied by representatives from Emory's Global Strategy and Initiatives (GSI) and Advancement and Alumni Engagement (AAE) offices, with the aim of strengthening collaborations with Israeli universities and connecting with students and alumni.

Over a four-day period, the delegation engaged in several meetings, events and university visits.

“As with recent international trips for Emory, this was another opportunity to meet with colleagues at world-class universities and also connect with alumni and our students studying and interning in Israel,” Fenves says. “There was so much creative energy on display, and I was impressed by the enthusiasm and vision of our students, the achievements of our alums, and the superb research being conducted by Emory and Israeli scholars.”  

Collaborating with Hebrew University of Jerusalem

The June trip commenced with a visit to one of Israel’s oldest universities, Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HUJI), co-founded by Albert Einstein in 1918. During this visit, the group met with the university's leadership to discuss key initiatives, shared research interests and institutional priorities including diversity, equity and inclusion. They also explored opportunities to enhance connections through student exchange programs and research grant collaborations.

Of note, Emory and HUJI, along with three other universities, established the Global Network Collaboration, which prioritizes education, research, leadership and innovation.

“This collaboration aims to facilitate academic exchange, connect scholars and researchers, and enhance mutual learning through best practices,” says Philip Wainwright, Emory’s vice provost for global strategy and initiatives.

During their time at HUJI, the delegation engaged with top researchers who have collaborated with Emory faculty in various disciplines ranging from health sciences to humanities.

Notably, some of these esteemed scholars have collaborated with Emory College faculty members Ellie Schainker and Ofra Yeglin, along with Michael Broyde from Emory Law. Also, they’ve worked with the School of Medicine’s Dr. Raymond Schinazi, who recently received an honorary doctorate from Hebrew University for his significant contributions to global health and his partnership in training the next generation of medical researchers through his initiative with the Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School.

Additionally, several members of the delegation met with Education USA to provide information about Emory and discuss recruitment strategies for Israeli students interested in studying at the university.

Emory-Israel engagement

The following day, the delegation traveled to Tel Aviv, where they held meetings with Fulbright Israel. Later that evening, in Jaffa, the “The Future Starts with You” 2O36 campaign event took place, bringing together students, alumni and friends of the university to learn more about the university’s comprehensive fundraising campaign. The event garnered a significant student audience, many of whom were participating in summer internships or study abroad opportunities.

Jonathan Goldsmith 04B, leader of the Emory Israel Network, opened the event with remarks that emphasized the importance of his time as an Emory student. Fenves highlighted future-focused research and initiatives at Emory, including efforts to combat cancer and make breakthroughs in AI. He acknowledged Tel Aviv's status as a global center for startups and technology companies, drawing parallels to Emory’s spirit of innovation and discovery.

Strengthening ties at Tel Aviv University

The third day mirrored the first, as the delegation visited Tel Aviv University (TAU) to meet with leadership and faculty to explore opportunities for further engagement.

During the visit, Fenves signed a memorandum of understanding renewing the Halle Institute for Global Research Collaborative Research Grants. The goal of this renewal is to foster long-term collaborations and strengthen institutional relations between Emory and TAU.

Emory's partnership with TAU has already led to numerous collaborative research projects, with four TAU faculty members who presented their current work with Emory faculty during the TAU visit. These projects encompassed a wide range of topics, including lung cancer research, COVID-19 and litigation funding, vernacular transformation of an Indian epic, and mapping sound to meaning in music and speech. Over the past five years, the two institutions have had 200 joint research publications, underscoring their commitment to scholarly collaboration.

Beyond research, the universities also facilitate student exchange programs. Emory’s Goizueta Business School (GBS) sends students to engage with Israeli companies and startups through the GBS Global Experience Modules, and some MBA students participate in the “Doing Business in Israel” program at TAU. Emory and TAU are actively exploring the revival of other exchange programs in a post-COVID-19 landscape.

The TAU visit culminated with a guided tour of the Museum of the Jewish People, located on the campus, which celebrates the rich cultural and intellectual contributions of Jewish people throughout history.

Memorable dinner in Tel Aviv

The trip concluded with a memorable sunset dinner at the Tel Aviv port, offering picturesque views of the Mediterranean. More than 30 Emory students joined the delegation for this occasion, fostering a warm environment where they shared experiences and perspectives.

Yuval Assyag, a current MBA candidate and ROMBA Fellow, expressed her gratitude for the delegation's visit, stating, “It was a great honor to have President Fenves and members of leadership travel to the other side of the world to see us.”

Assyag appreciated the opportunity to hear about the university’s plans for students and took pride in showing them around Israel. Fenves and his wife, Carmel Fenves, engaged with the students, moving from table to table, answering their questions and taking selfies. He made clear that the university is committed to creating opportunities for students to explore the world, discover potential career paths and embrace meaningful global experiences. Emory achieves this commitment through various programs such as the Free Passport Initiative, Pathways Center and Education Abroad.

More about Emory’s unique connections to Israel

Emory places a strong emphasis on fostering academic excellence and promoting cultural understanding through various initiatives.

Emory’s Institute for the Study of Modern Israel, established in 1998, stands as the first U.S. institute dedicated to the study of modern Israel. Emory actively supports academic pursuits related to Israel, with numerous faculty and students receiving Fulbright Fellowships, and through the Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies undergraduate degree program. Additionally, Emory TAMID, a nonprofit organization, connects students with Israeli start-ups and businesses, offering summer internship opportunities for undergraduates.

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