Professor Michal Irani, Head of the Department of Computer Science and Applied Math at the Weizmann Institute, sent a letter to the Minister of Education, Naftali Bennett, in response to his decision to appoint Rivka Wadmany Shauman as the vice chairwoman for the Council for Higher Education of Israel.
Shauman is currently a council member and head of planning and development at the Seminar Hakibbutzim Teachers College; she is slated to replace the recently deposed Prof. Hagit Messer-Yaron.
“In the name of the scientists at the Weizmann Institute, we wish to inform you that we are worried about the future quality of academic education and research in Israel. We are approaching not as representatives of a specific sector or segment of the country, but rather as scientists to whom the quality of scientific research is our first and foremost priority,” said Irani in the letter.
“As scientists we first must care for the good of society, science and the country. And it is with this in mind that we would like to express our doubt and worry that we fear we may lose this important asset.”
“Irresponsible changes to the system may lead to the entire academic system to lose its path, and therefore cause a quick degradation of the quality of scientific research and education, a degradation that will have serious consequences for the Israeli economy."
Irani emphasized that the “main principles that have led to the success of the academic system in Israel have been its independence and its continual striving for excellence. Without academic freedom, there will cease to be an academic system that is worthy of the name. Academic freedom requires managerial freedom” she explained.
“The deposing of Professor Hagit Messer-Yaron, and the establishment of a replacement who has no advanced managerial or academic background, constitute a striking blow to the autonomy of higher academic learning, and to its strength,” claimed Irani.
“We call upon you, to subsist from one sided decisions, and to engage in a continuing dialogue with the educational system for advanced learning, that will protect it and allow its contribution to Israel to continue to grow.”