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Research Now Common Ground for Drexel, Israel

April 29, 2010 By:
Aaron Passman, JE Feature
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Drexel University has long made a point of sending its students for study abroad, as well as urging them to participate in co-op programs, but several new initiatives between Drexel and Israeli universities are also putting the focus on faculty exchanges and collaboration.

During a 10-day trip in November, Drexel provost Mark Greenberg and interim president C.R. "Chuck" Pennoni led a group of university administrators to meet with faculty and staff from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, all of which Drexel has worked with in the past.

The trip was intended to further cement those ties, as well as continue to develop a network of connections in the Jewish state as Drexel strives to become an internationally known research hub.

The Drexel group also spent time exploring potential relationships with Hadassah College and with the Arab-run Al Quds University, both in Jerusalem.

Ties Between the Two
According to Julie Mostov -- a political-science professor at Drexel, as well as associate vice provost for international programs -- the university's ties to Israel date back to the mid-1990s, when former president Constantine Papadakis, who died last spring, visited the Jewish state and was instantly impressed by the country's technology sector.

He returned convinced that his school should deepen its relationships with Israel, which led to initiatives like including the Jewish state in the school's co-op overseas internship program, explained Mostov.

During the recent trip, Drexel administrators and Israeli schools signed the papers to begin creating exchange opportunities for faculty and students. University officials also set up the framework for a binational research hub between Drexel and Hebrew University to study biomedical engineering.

Moreover, a joint symposium is planned to be held at Drexel in November.

Along with Ben-Gurion University, Drexel is also planning a conference on clinical child psychology, which was another result of the trip.

But the Drexel-Israel partnership isn't just about scholarly exchanges between those two countries.

According to Dr. D. Walter Cohen, chancellor emeritus of Drexel's college of medicine, a joint project is under way between Drexel and Hebrew University to build a new English-language medical school in Bucharest, Romania, with a curriculum similar to that of Drexel's medical school.

Cohen said that three of the project's principals from Romania have already visited and met with a pair of Drexel professors, and are currently investigating resources in Bucharest to get started.

Greenberg said during a recent presentation about the November trip that while Drexel has only just become known internationally for its research prowess -- while Israel has long been heralded as a multifaceted research center -- the Drexel delegation was nonetheless "greeted as peers, as equals."

He also pointed out that the Israeli focus on technology and research is quite similar to Drexel's own emphasis on the practical application of new technologies.

Said Greenberg: "There's a real affinity, culturally, between the way we think at these universities." 

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