NIS 1b bequest seen transforming Bar-Ilan University

Bar-Ilan University  campus  credit: Bar-Ilan Univesrity
Bar-Ilan University campus credit: Bar-Ilan Univesrity

The unnamed North American donor specified that the money should be invested in Deep Tech. The university plans to recruit 70 leading researchers.

An unnamed North American Jewish donor who died a few months ago has left most of his estate, some NIS 1 billion, to Bar-Ilan University. This is one of the largest donations ever to have been received by an academic institution in Israel.

The donor requested that his name should be kept secret for the time being, although it is expected to be revealed later on. The bequest is in cash, not in the form of a fund, and is already in the university’s possession. The university will invest part of the sum, but will use some of it for immediate purposes. The donor specified that the money should be invested in Deep Tech, such as energy, the environment, health, engineering, bio-convergence, quantum computing, cyber, artificial intelligence, and natural language processing. The university plans to recruit 70 leading researchers in these areas from around the world. Each researcher will be equipped with a laboratory that, together with the research team, could cost several millions dollars.

Transformation of the university’s status

Bar-Ilan currently employs about 700 researchers, but only about half of them are in fields that require laboratories, and not all of the laboratories are of the standard proposed. The bequest will therefore dramatically change Bar-Ilan’s status as it seeks to recruit leading researchers.

This bequest, coming at a time when Israeli and Jewish scientists in universities around the world are seriously considering emigrating or returning to Israel because of the wave of anti-Israel sentiment, and sometimes even antisemitism, on some campuses, could transform Bar-Ilan University. The university, situated in Ramat Gan, said that in order to accommodate the new laboratories, it would expand physically, and that laboratories will be set up on the biotech campus of nearby Sheba Hospital for lack of space on the university’s own existing campus, until new buildings are constructed. The university’s engineering building, for example, is expected to double in size.

The university hopes that this bequest, and the researchers who will be recruited thanks to it, will raise its profile, and that this will attract further large donations.

The university said that the donor had a long-term connection with it, and particularly with its president, Prof. Arie Zaban, and that he had been deeply impressed by the deep research there, by the connection between research and technological developments, and also by the varied student body, with religious students of all streams together with secular students, Arabs, and students from abroad. "He knew Israel from before the state was founded, he fought in the US Army in the Second World War, and he saw his bequest as a way of supporting the effort to ensure Israel’s continued existence and strength," the university said. The donor was a graduate of Columbia University, but chose to leave most of his estate to the Israeli university. The decision was made before the events of October 7.

"Today, more than ever, Israel needs support and investment in its science and human capital. Our research driven technological resilience is the key to a thriving society and economy," Prof. Zaban told the annual meeting of Bar-Ilan University’s Board of Trustees.

"The donor, a man of broad academic education, believed that the development of Israel's technological resilience relies primarily on breakthrough science," Prof. Zaban added. "During his visits to Israel, he recognized the significant impact Bar-Ilan University has made in key areas thanks to its science-based infrastructure and deep connections to all sectors of Israeli society.

"This gift will be invested in the development of Deep Tech sciences and has the potential to positively influence the future of Israel and humanity. This gift will enable us to start implementing our new vision for the future. However, this is just the beginning and I call upon others to partner with us as we create lasting change for our society, economy and the world at large."

Bar-Ilan university was founded in 1955. It states as its mission "to blend Jewish tradition with modern technologies and scholarship." 

Published by Globes, Israel business news - - on June 4, 2024.

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2024.

Bar-Ilan University  campus  credit: Bar-Ilan Univesrity
Bar-Ilan University campus credit: Bar-Ilan Univesrity
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