Tel Aviv University (TAU)

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TEL AVIV UNIVERSITY (tau)

TEL AVIV UNIVERSITY (tau), Israel university. Its name was first established in 1956, but its antecedents go back to 1935, when the Tel Aviv School of Law and Economics was established. In 1953 and 1955 the Tel Aviv municipality founded University Institutes of Biological Studies and of Jewish Studies, which in 1956 referred to themselves as faculties of Tel Aviv University. In the late 1950s, the Tel Aviv School of Law and Economics became a branch of the Hebrew University faculties of Law and Economics. In 1956 this branch, together with the faculties of Biological and Jewish Studies, were combined into Tel Aviv University, first as a municipal institution and, from 1962, as an autonomous body supported by the municipality, the government, and friends in Israel and abroad. The new university grew rapidly from about 1,650 students in 1962–63 to some 29,000 in 2005–06 – the largest in Israel – with an academic staff of around 1,200.

In 2004–05, the university comprised nine faculties, over 100 departments, three super-centers and over 90 research institutes. The faculties were of Humanities (including schools of Jewish Studies, History, Cultural Studies, and Education); of Law; Engineering; Exact Sciences (with schools of chemistry, physics and astronomy, and mathematical sciences); Life Sciences; Faculty of Management (including the Graduate School of Business Administration); Faculty of Social Sciences, including school of Economics and Social Work); Medicine (embodying schools of Medicine, Dental Medicine, the Continuing Medical Education, and the School of Health Professions); and the Faculty of Arts (including the School of Architecture and the Rubin Israeli Academy of Music).

tau's encouragement of interdisciplinary research is reflected in its three super-centers, involving faculty from various fields. These are the Adams Brain Studies, Cardiac Research and Medical Engineering, and Ecological and Environmental Studies. The university's 220-acre campus at Ramat Aviv comprises faculties and research institutes, students' dormitories and facilities, a sports center, zoological and botanical gardens, an art gallery, and a statue garden. The university owns and operates the Wise Observatory near the Ramon crater in the Negev, and takes part in research at the Steinitz Interuniversity Institute Marine Laboratories in Eilat.

The university encourages communal involvement of students and staff. It operates a clinic providing legal aid in criminal cases, a center for legal advice on human rights, a clinic for ecology legal counseling, and community theater programs. Some 2,000 students were tutoring disadvantaged children, and many provided volunteer services to the elderly and aid the community through several social involvement programs.

tau has special links with Jewish communities abroad, offering programs of Jewish studies to teachers and students from various countries. It is also involved in Jewish special education, research and teaching worldwide. The university also maintains academic supervision over a few academic institutions in the Tel Aviv area: the Center for Technological Design in Holon, the New Academic College of Tel Aviv-Yaffo, and the Tel Aviv Engineering College. The university also awards each year the Dan David Prize (three prizes, each $1 million) for achievements having an outstanding scientific, technological, cultural or social impact on our world.

The Overseas Student Program gives students from abroad the opportunity to study at Tel Aviv University for limited periods. The program is available in English and Spanish, and offers a wide choice of courses. Students may elect to combine university study with kibbutz experience. Other study opportunities for students from abroad are a Graduate Program in Middle Eastern Studies, a Summer Law Program, the Sackler School of Medicine New York State/American Program, the Medical Elective program, and the Wharton-Recanati-insead-York Project in Management.

The Middle East peace process and ensuing regional cooperation opportunities are important research fields at the university, notably through its research institutes – mainly the Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, the Steinmetz Center for Peace Research, the Curiel Center for International Studies, and the Hammer Fund for Economic Cooperation in the Middle East.

The university has a Board of Governors, headed by Michael H. Steinhardt in 2005, which has an international membership of scientists, scholars, entrepreneurs, and public figures. The board elects the president (Prof. Itamar *Rabinovich, elected in 2003), vice presidents, chancellor of the university (Sir Leslie Porter), and the executive council, of which Dov Lautman is chairman. The supreme academic body is the Senate, which elects the rector (Prof. Shimon Yankielwics) and vice rector, approves elections of deans, and deals with all major academic issues. Website: www.tau.ac.il.