Letter from Our CEO

November 2020


Dear Friends,

"We the People ..." These three small words form the beginning of the Constitution of the United States of America. They serve as a reminder that we, the American people, have the power — in our families and in our communities — to perpetuate goodness, generosity of spirit, decency, and compassion. This election and these last few days are unprecedented in US history. With no clear outcome as of the writing of this letter, I think it is important to remember that we each have a responsibility to strengthen the bonds of the social fabric of our country so that it can withstand political differences.

Though the votes have been cast and polls are closed, our emotions remain raw, but we, the people, can do our part to create a better and more compassionate world. We are proud that Tel Aviv University (TAU), with its hundreds of labs and researchers, is unwavering in its efforts to make the world a better place, and the American Friends of Tel Aviv University (AFTAU) team is committed to sharing the work being done at TAU to improve our world.

This week, TAU became the first Israeli university to conceive, develop, build, and assemble a nanosatellite the size of a shoebox. The satellite is currently undergoing pre-flight testing at the Japanese space agency JAXA. Following successful results, the satellite will hitch a ride into space courtesy of NASA in the first quarter of 2021. This satellite is the result of an interdisciplinary endeavor of the Iby and Aladar Fleishman Faculty of Engineering, the Raymond & Beverly Sackler Faculty of Exact Sciences, and the Porter School of Environmental Studies. When the satellite is launched, it will orbit the earth conducting experiments including measuring cosmic radiation in space.

A timely example of the research and innovation being done at TAU to make the world a better place is Professor Oded Rechavi being awarded one of the first two Schmidt Futures Polymaths Awards. These awards are part of a philanthropic initiative founded by Eric and Wendy Schmidt for researchers applying advanced science and technology thoughtfully and working together across fields. The $2.5 million unrestricted grant of $500,000 annually, for five years, is given to scientists who the foundation deems "exceptional people to help them achieve more for others by applying advanced science and technology."

Beyond the focus on research and discovery, TAU maintains an unwavering commitment to being an agent of positive world-wide change. Following the recent signing of the Abraham Accords Peace Agreement, a delegation from Dubai visited campus to discuss collaborations. The Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with TRENDS Research and Advisory Center in Abu Dhabi, UAE. This historical agreement seeks to enhance academic and analytical research, as well as cooperation in mutual interest areas such as geopolitics of the Middle East, economics, and intercultural relations. The University is in discussion with other countries in the Middle East about educational cooperation, joint programs, and agreements. I am excited to continue to share updates as there is news to report.

In the US, in Israel, and in democratic countries around the world, elections take place regularly and political parties come into and fall out of power. The constant is the importance of focusing on innovation and making the world a better place, a direction taken by Tel Aviv University. We feel fortunate that we can bring these achievements to you.

Wishing you a Shabbat shalom,

Jennifer Gross
Chief Executive Officer