Gov. Bruce Rauner led a delegation of 11 University of Illinois administrators and senior state officials to Israel on Oct. 29. The objective of the six-day trip was to increase collaboration between universities and institutions in Israel and Illinois. John Lowenstein, JUF Vice President of Campus Affairs, joined the delegation on their visit.
The University of Illinois system signed collaboration agreements with Tel Aviv University, Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Ben Gurion University. The agreements offer new opportunities for partnerships, exchanges, research, and other collaborations in the fields of biotechnology, food and agriculture, stem cell science, and engineering.
"Today marks a new era of collaboration with Tel Aviv University, an institution that has developed a reputation for genius in the technology and engineering fields - key drivers of economic progress," Rauner said Monday after a Memorandum of Understanding signing ceremony. "Illinois, Israel and the world will benefit from the exchange of faculty and students, cooperative programs and research opportunities now on the horizon."
The mission comes a week after Rauner announced plans for the Discovery Partners Institute, an interdisciplinary research institute operated by the University of Illinois and located in Chicago.
The governor advocated for collaboration between Israel and the Discovery Partners Institute during meetings with university administrators, as well as business and tech executives. Rauner chose Israel and its academic institutions as the first international partner for the institute.
"The future partnerships between the world-renowned universities in Israel and Illinois are sure to produce groundbreaking solutions to world challenges," said Consul General of Israel to the Midwest Aviv Ezra, who was instrumental in organizing the mission. "The projects that emanate from this win-win collaboration will be acknowledged on the world map as revolutionary."
The delegation also met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Minister of Homeland Security and Strategic Affairs Gilad Ardan, Minister of Education Naftali Bennett, and Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat.
"The leadership of the governor has been instrumental in making this trip successful. He has taken a personal interest in ensuring major Israeli institutions will have permanent and deep relations with their Illinois counterparts." said John Lowenstein, JUF's vice president of campus affairs. "There's no better way to fight anti-Semitism and defeat BDS than to build deep relationships between Israeli and Illinois institutions."