Shalala Among Delegation of University Presidents Visiting Israel

Weeklong trip focuses on higher education and issues facing Israel and the region.

Jerusalem, Israel (July 02, 2010) — University of Miami President Donna E. Shalala will join a delegation of university presidents from across the United States traveling to Israel, July 5-11, on a program sponsored by Project Interchange, an educational institute of AJC.

The weeklong program was designed by Project Interchange in consultation with the participating university heads. It will be conducted in an intensive seminar format, offering the group broad exposure to the various complex issues facing Israel and the region.

Strong thematic emphasis will be given to higher education, and the delegation will meet with their executive counterparts at such institutions as Tel Aviv University, Technion, Hebrew University, and Al-Qasemi College. They will receive in-depth briefings on state-of-the-art research initiatives being undertaken and will discuss opportunities for academic collaboration and exchange at the undergraduate, graduate, and faculty levels. Participants have expressed particular interest in discussions on turning technology research at the university level into marketable products – an area in which Israeli institutions have seen marked success.

“I am honored to be part of a select group of American university presidents invited to take part in this special visit to Israel coordinated by Project Interchange,” said President Shalala. “It is a unique opportunity to exchange ideas with our counterparts in Israel and develop key partnerships within the region.”

Also on the agenda are meetings with senior government officials, including Israeli President Shimon Peres, Palestinian National Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, and U.S. Ambassador to Israel James B. Cunningham.

In addition to President Shalala, the 13-member delegation will include: President David J. Skorton of Cornell University; President Robert Berdahl of the Association of American Universities; President Warren J. Baker of California Polytechnic State University; President Harris Pastides of the University of South Carolina; President Edward J. Ray of Oregon State University; and President Jon Whitmore of San Jose State University.

The seminar is being co-chaired by presidents Skorton and Berdahl. President Skorton will be blogging from Israel for the Chronicle of Higher Education (

Sam Witkin, executive director of Project Interchange, said, “We are tremendously pleased to host this exceptional delegation of university presidents for their first of hopefully many trips to Israel. The world-class research and educational facilities at Israeli universities, many of which will be visited during the program, provide a fitting setting for great minds to share information, discuss research partnerships, and explore opportunities for mutually beneficial collaboration.”

The group will also participate in briefings by Israeli and Palestinian experts on a host of political and societal matters, including Israel’s diverse makeup and efforts toward interfaith co-existence. Aharon Barak, former president of Israel’s Supreme Court, and Daniel Reisner, former head of the International Law Department of the Israel Defense Forces, will lead discussions on various legal topics, including human rights and international law.

Recent Project Interchange delegations have included North African leaders, the presidents of the Pacific Island nations of Micronesia and Nauru, college newspaper editors, American Latina leaders, Indian-American leaders, and journalists from the United States, Scandinavia, and Latin America, with upcoming seminars for global leaders in such fields as counter-terrorism and public health.

About Project Interchange:
Project Interchange, a nonprofit institute of the American Jewish Committee, develops and conducts educational seminars in Israel for current and emerging United States and international leaders. Founded in 1982, Project Interchange has brought over 5,000 influential figures to Israel from more than 60 countries, offering them broad exposure to the complex issues facing Israel and the region. Project Interchange is headquartered in Washington DC and maintains an office in Jerusalem, Israel. To learn more, please visit

United States: Amit Katzir
Phone: 818-384-3954
E-mail: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Israel: Myra Clark Siegel
Phone: 011.972.50.987.0057
E-mail: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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University of Miami President Donna E. Shalala will join a delegation of university presidents from across the United States traveling to Israel, July 5-11, on a program sponsored by Project Interchange, an educational institute of AJC.

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