UI makes a deal

UI makes a deal

The University of Illinois goes global to expand its research partnerships.

The world is small and getting small.

How else does one account for this week's announcement that the University of Illinois has signed research agreements with four Israeli universities: Tel Aviv, Hebrew, Technion and Ben-Gurion.

UI President Timothy Killeen, traveling with Gov. Bruce Rauner on a trade and marketing mission to Israel, described Hebrew University a "global leader in producing the workforce and innovation of tomorrow through world-class programs that match many of ours in the University of Illinois system."

Killeen said the agreement will "build on exchange programs that enhance the student experience and foster the groundbreaking discovery that drives progress and economic growth."

For his part, Asher Cohen, Killeen's counterpart at Hebrew University, said he hopes that joint educational venture will "dramatically increase student exchange programs and advance large-scale research at the university level."

"Today is one of our first steps to expand these international relationships and, hopefully, we can build on this partnership," Cohen said.

As the only democracy in the power keg that is the Middle East, Israel excels in a variety of areas, higher education among them. Further, as one of the world's great high-tech hot spots, the country and its universities are well-suited to work with world-class educational institution in the United States, particularly the UI.

Hebrew University features more than 100 research centers and has 7,000 patents to its credit. Like the UI, it ranks high in health science, technology and agriculture.

The benefits of this announcement extend well beyond educational research and student exchange. Killeen's action represents a strong and public repudiation of the BDS —boycott, divest and sanction — movement, a global campaign attempting to increase economic and political pressure on Israel over its dispute with its neighbors, including Palestinians.

That effort has spread to a number of colleges and universities across the country. It has adherents at the UI. Given the strong position taken by the state of Illinois through legislation and the UI through this agreement, that effort looks to be going nowhere.

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