An Unprecedented Gift Heralds a New Era for the Technion

Unprecedented. This was the word that seemed to echo throughout the Technion’s Board of Governors meeting this month. We heard Technion President Peretz Lavie describe the university’s rapid rise in international standing and the exciting growth of its global partnerships. We listened to faculty and students offer insight into the school’s development of extraordinary solutions to pressing global problems. And we witnessed Dr. Andrew Viterbi announce a $50 million gift to the Faculty of Electrical Engineering – the largest contribution ever directed to the Technion’s Haifa campus from an American donor.

Receiving such a major investment from Dr. Viterbi – the co-founder of Qualcomm Corporation and a visionary leader in the field of digital communications – speaks volumes about the Technion’s tremendous potential at this moment. An Honorary Doctorate Holder and Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Technion, Dr. Viterbi understands deeply why his historic gift will leave an extraordinary mark. His roots at the university date back almost 50 years.

Let me share three observations about what his major investment represents for the Technion, Israel, and the world.

First, the Technion’s elite Electrical Engineering Department will rise to new heights of excellence. For years, the department has ranked among the top 10 programs in the world. Yet, its student-faculty ratio is presently more than three times higher than America’s top private universities. Now the department will be able to bridge this gap. The funds will be used to retain and attract world-renowned faculty members, recruit the brightest students, and upgrade the school’s research and teaching infrastructure.

Over the course of many visits, I’ve seen firsthand that the members of Technion’s Faculty of Electrical Engineering are too passionate to rest on their laurels. They are too curious to stop seeking answers to the most difficult questions. And they are too talented to put the future of the Startup Nation in anyone else’s hands. With this great infusion of resources, they will be able to venture into totally unexplored areas of research, which promise to do nothing less than profoundly change the world.

Second, a gift of this size signals that the Technion is entering a new era of global importance. It’s become very easy to make the case that Israel’s universities – and the Technion in particular – warrant international investment on the same scale as the most prestigious institutions in any other corner of the planet.

A 2009 Evaluation Report by an International Review Committee found that both the students and faculty in Electrical Engineering at the Technion are “among the best that can be found in a top-ranked educational institution anywhere in the world.” According to a recent international survey, Israel ranks second in the world in computer science research, fourth in space science research, and sixth in life sciences research, despite being a tiny nation with only 8 million people and a fraction of the research budget of other nations.

The list of accolades goes on, but the pattern is clear: Israeli universities, and the Technion specifically, are trailblazing across all fields of science and technology. They have proven to be uniquely adept at maximizing the impact of each research dollar. Gifts like Dr. Viterbi’s indicate that the world has started paying close attention.

Third, this historic gift illuminates the truly transformative power of philanthropy in the field of higher education. Each dollar invested in the Technion’s Faculty of Electrical Engineering will generate countless more in the form of life-changing technologies and knowledge, new companies and jobs, and a much healthier human family. By partnering with the Technion, our organization continues to empower the greatest minds of our generation to address the greatest challenges of our time. It’s clear to me that there are few investments more critical for our future.

I am proud to be a part of the organization that helped make this gift possible, and look forward to guiding the ATS during these unprecedented times.

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