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USC in Israel: Jerusalem Update

The closing destination of the USC Delegation to Israel was the city of Jerusalem, where delegates continued to meet with higher education colleagues; held private meetings with leaders in government to gain insight into the country's priority areas in research and plans for economic development; and made visits to the city's major cultural and historic institutions.

Yad Vashem

The USC Delegation  made a visit to Yad Vashem, the world's largest repository of information on the Holocaust. During a tour, USC President C. L. Max Nikias and Mrs. Niki Nikias met Holocaust survivor Asher Ud, who shared his testimony of his childhood experiences in the Lodz Ghetto of Poland. Dr. and Mrs. Nikias participated in a memorial ceremony to honor those lost in the Holocaust, laying a wreath in the Hall of Remembrance. Photo: C. L. Max Nikias and Niki Nikias lay a wreath in memory of those lost to the Holocaust during a ceremony in the Yad Vashem Hall of Remembrance.
In the photo above: USC Provost Elizabeth Garrett (right) met with Hebrew University President Menahem Ben-Sasson (left), and led a discussion with academic counterparts from Hebrew University, including (in the photo below): Shy Arkin (center), the vice president for research and development, and Yaakov Schul (left), the vice rector. The discussions centered on the role of technology development at higher education institutions, and successful partnerships with private sector companies that have driven forward Israel's economy; as well as exploratory conversations on future scholarly exchanges between the two universities.

Dean Elizabeth Daley of the USC School of Cinematic Arts in conversation with film professor Raya Morag of Hebrew University. Morag is the author of the forthcoming book, Waltzing with Bashir: Perpetrator Trauma and Cinema.
Bill Barkett of the USC Delegation to Israel; Ken McGillivray, USC vice provost for global initiatives; and Lisa Barkett, president of the USC Alumni Association, enjoy a special introduction to the Israel Museum by the museum director, James Snyder. Snyder gave an overview of the Museum's founding, collections, and major exhibits—including a current show by  USC Roski School of Fine Arts faculty member, Sharon Lockhart, that captures the work of Israeli movement and dance theorist, Noa Eshkol. Later in the evening, the delegation enjoyed a reception at the historic Charlotte Bergman House, home to an extensive collection of modern art orignally curated by the legendary 20th century art patron.
USC President C. L. Max Nikias, Mrs. Niki Nikias, and Michael Jeser, executive director of the USC Hillel Foundation and CEO of the USC Jewish Alumni Association.
View additional photos from this visit on Flickr.

USC Leaders Meet with President Shimon Peres

USC President C. L. Max Nikias (right), Mrs. Niki Nikias (center right), and USC Trustee Alan Casden (left) met with the President of Israel, Shimon Peres (center left), and discussed the importance of scientific research and biotechnology as drivers of the economy. President Peres, who has made two past visits to the University of Southern California campus, explained his support of the biotech sector as an important investment that improves human life, in addition to providing fuel to boost the country's economic growth. 
USC leadership welcomes guest speaker Sarah Stroumsa, the rector (Israeli equivalent position to provost) of Hebrew University. From l. to r.: Elizabeth Garrett (USC), Sarah Stroumsa (Hebrew University), Mrs. Niki Nikias (USC) and C. L. Max Nikias (USC)
Both USC Delegation members and academic guests were treated to talks on a number of scholarly and current political topics during a series of evening events. Eran Lerman, (in photo above) the Deputy National Security Advisor of the National Security Council, provided an overview of the geopolitics of the region, and discussed Israel's relationship with its neighbors—Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon—with additional comments during the Q and A on relations with Turkey, Iran and Pakistan. Sarah Stroumsa, the rector (chief academic officer, the position equivalent to provost in the United States) of Hebrew University, delivered a talk on the pace of developing tertiary education in the state of Israel, and the challenges that the higher education sector faces. From Tel Aviv University, Major General Professor Isaac Ben-Israel, an Israeli military scientist who is currently the chairman of the Israeli Space Agency and the National Council for Research and Development, discussed the development of modern warfare. From the Weizmann Institute of Science, Professor Stephan Weiner described the infusion of science and social science in the new field of "microarchaeology"—using an array of scientific tools to elucidate the microscopic record of mineralized and charred remains of plants, as well as the minerals in the sediments that accumulate at an archeological site.
President Nikias also hosted a meeting with Professor Eugene Kandel, head of the National Economic Council of Israel, who explained the key economic objectives for the country, the role of the higher education sector, and the collaborative efforts with the financial sector that has successfully attracted major communications and technology companies to Israel such as Google, Microsoft and Intel.  The conversation also included the topic of the energy sector, as Professor Kandel described Israel's current energy requirements, as well as the implications of the discovery of Leviathan—a huge natural gas field that has the potential to produce millions of barrels of oil. The Leviathan field was discovered in 2010 and crosses the maritime borders between Israel, Lebanon, the Gaza Strip, Cyprus, and Northern Cyprus. Kandel heads Israel's national initiative to end the world's dependence on oil. In the photo above: Roger Engemann, Yannis Yortsos, Michelle Engemann, C. L. Max Nikias, Eugene Kandel, Elizabeth Garrett, Jack Knott, Ken McGillivray, and Uri Gutman of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
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