Prof Uriel Reichman, IDC founder and president, and Jonathan Davis, vice-president for External Relations, with two new graduates ... and two future graduates
To mark IDC Herzliya's 20th anniversary, we spent a day following Prof. Uriel Reichman, IDC's founder and president, and Jonathan Davis, VP for External Relations, around its delightful campus
Walking along IDC Herzliya's campus with its founder and president, Prof. Uriel Reichman, and with its Vice President and Head of the Raphael Recanati International School, Mr. Jonathan Davis, one can't help being amazed by the rapid evolution of this prestigious academic institution.
Twenty-two years ago, the site was an abandoned IDF air force base, while today Israel's first privately-owned university is brimming with activity. New buildings are being built to meet the demand for its constantly expanding range of academic programs. Near the main entrance, the building that will house the new Adelson School of Entrepreneurship is under construction, while on the northern edge of the campus, the Psychology building is nearing completion.
In addition to the striking architecture and the magnificent landscaping, eye-catching pieces of art and archeological artifacts are displayed throughout the campus, both outdoors and inside the various buildings.
Full academic degrees in English
It's Sunday morning, and as Prof. Reichman and Mr. Davis walk towards the cafeteria, stopping several times on the way to greet students and faculty members, they can't help noticing IDC Herzliya's heterogeneous student body. This diversity reflects the university's mission statement that stresses the importance of social responsibility. In particular, they encounter a large number of Ethiopian Israeli students, many of whom are part of the "Israel at Heart" program, whose participants receive free tuition, a monthly stipend and unlimited tutoring.
"To meet these students is inspiring," asserts Davis. "They are the apple of my eye and I am very proud of them. Many are on the Dean's List."
Once inside the lovely cafeteria, the two men try to count the different languages they hear: German, French, Spanish, Russian, Swedish – and of course Hebrew and English – in addition to several others. In fact, 26% of IDC Herzliya's student body is enrolled in the Raphael Recanati International School, and hails from 86 different countries!
"We are basically the largest academic absorption center in Israel," boasts Prof. Reichman, "and we are the most international university in Israel, with the highest ratio of foreign students."
This year there are over 1,800 students at the Raphael Recanati International School (RRIS), studying for full academic degrees taught in English, including three-year BA programs in Business Administration, double major in Business and Economics, Communications, Government, Psychology and Computer Science.
Graduate programs in Business, Government and Organizational Behavior are also offered. Although the international students learn alongside their Israeli counterparts and are involved in all aspects of campus life, they also enjoy an array of special extracurricular social and cultural activities, such as trips around the country, weekend seminars, Hillel events, Shabbat dinners and much more.
Davis points out that there is a large group of students that is not visible on campus – those who are currently serving in the IDF reserves and are therefore absent from their studies. Since IDC Herzliya's student body includes a high proportion of combat officers and other demobilized soldiers serving in key positions – both men and women – they are frequently called to reserve duty.
Taking a stroll ... four IDC Herzliya students
According to a recent survey conducted by the IDF's Chief Reserves Officer, among 66 Israeli colleges and universities, IDC Herzliya was ranked #1 in the way it treats its reservists. They receive all the help they need in order to make up what they miss when they are in the army, including special exam dates and free tutoring. Once a year there is even a Reservists’ Prom, where students serving in the reserves are invited to a lavish affair in order to thank them. The Reservists’ Prom is funded by sponsors and organized by volunteers.
Educating future leaders
Continuing on their walk around campus, Reichman and Davis decide to check on the new Adelson School of Entrepreneurship. Taking its cue from Reichman's 20-year journey of academic entrepreneurship, this new department offers academic courses catering to students from all of the faculties on campus, including Business, Government, Economics, Psychology, Communications, Sustainability and Computer Science – either as part of joint academic programs or as stand-alone electives complementing students’ fields of study.
“IDC Herzliya prides itself on educating the future generation of leaders to serve Israel and the world at large,” notes Davis, adding that, “Those who employ our graduates understand that our alumni are trained to hit the ground running and that they have a background that combines academics with practical skills.”
Despite its short history, IDC Herzliya alumni are already responsible for start-up exits in excess of $240 million. Many of these successful graduates were in the Zell Entrepreneurship Program. Currently in its 13th year, the Zell program provides students with an opportunity to apply advanced entrepreneurial studies to the creation of real business ventures. Generously supported in vision and funding by Sam Zell of Chicago, the program is designed for outstanding undergraduates in their final year at IDC Herzliya. The program is taught in English in order to best acclimate students to the global business environment.
Most satisfied students
The next stop for Davis is a meeting of the Scholarship Committee for Students from Abroad, of which he is the chairperson, while Reichman heads for the Faculty Club. The Scholarship Committee has convened to discuss the case of a second year student from Turkey, and is trying to find ways to provide more need-based scholarships for her as well as for other students.
The next item on the agenda is increasing the level of financial aid for Jews from Venezuela, and helping the younger generation of this community to pursue a higher education in Israel. For purely Zionist reasons, IDC Herzliya has decided to send a representative to Venezuela to help with the process of absorbing more students from that country. There are currently 50 Venezuelans studying at IDC, but Davis believes that many more would like to come to Israel, especially if they receive full scholarships.
Meanwhile, at the Faculty Club, Prof. Reichman speaks with professors from different departments. IDC Herzliya prides itself that its professors are at the top of their fields, and that most are graduates of Ivy League schools, as well as MIT, Oxford, Cambridge, Stanford and the best Israeli universities. In addition to training students, they are engaged in state-of-the-art, groundbreaking academic research.
When he founded IDC, Reichman's vision was to create an academic environment in which the faculty and the students are partners. Accordingly, professors are very accessible to their students and don't even have a separate cafeteria. Undoubtedly, this approach has contributed to the university's growing popularity. In fact, in a recent survey, the Israeli National Students Union ranked IDC Herzliya in first place for the fourth consecutive year for students being most satisfied with the quality of the teaching, as well as with the facilities.
Academic Garden of Eden
Indeed, the IDC Herzliya campus is full of hidden gems, but there is no doubt that its real treasures are its human capital – its diverse and top-notch student body, its remarkably professional faculty, and also its devoted leadership – all of whom together have created a unique academic Garden of Eden in only 20 years.
For more information about IDC Herzliya, visit www.rris.idc.ac.il.