The IDC Her­zliya Dif­fer­ence

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“Pro­fes­sor Re­ich­man built this place 25 year ago be­cause he felt there was a need for an al­ter­na­tive in­no­va­tive aca­demic op­tion in Is­raeli higher ed­u­ca­tion,” says Jonathan Davis, Vice Pres­i­dent for Ex­ter­nal Re­la­tions at IDC Her­zliya, and head of the univer­sity’s Raphael Re­ca­nati In­ter­na­tion al School. Tanned, re­laxed, and look­ing far younge than his seventy years, Davis ex­plains the IDC dif­fer ence, in his of­fice on cam­pus.

“Pro­fes­sor Re­ich­man wanted to build an aca­demic in­sti­tu­tion that stands for hu­man­is­tic Zion­ism, and a the same time not to be afraid to say that we be­lieve in striv­ing for ex­cel­lence in academia and nur­tur­ing fu­ture lead­ers. It is a Zion­ism, says Davis, that re­spect mi­nori­ties within the frame­work of a Jewish and dem ocratic state, and is the Zion­ism of the Jewish de­moc racy of Is­rael – “a Zion­ism of be­ing hu­man to each other, based on the phi­los­o­phy of Herzl, Jabotin­sky Ben Gu­rion and Be­gin.

That, ex­plains Davis, is the spirit of IDC Her­zliya It is ex­pressed in many dif­fer­ent ways at the in­stitu tition; from the ex­emp­tion of psy­cho­me­t­ric exam granted to IDF com­bat of­fi­cers, to the two hours o elec­tive aca­demic cred­its awarded for serv­ing eleven days of army re­serve duty, to the an­nual bar­beque hosted by the school for stu­dents who serve in miluim (army re­serves).

Founded in 1994 by Pro­fes­sor Uriel Re­ich­man, a noted Is­raeli le­gal scholar, IDC Her­zliya is a pri­vate ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tion en­tity which is not sub­si­dized by the govern­ment and is ded­i­cated to the pur­suit o ex­cel­lence in ed­u­ca­tion and re­search. Davis heads the In­ter­na­tional School, which in­cludes 2,000 stu­dent from 90 dif­fer­ent coun­tries. Over­all, the univer­sity boasts an en­roll­ment of more than 7,000 stu­dents.

The In­ter­na­tional pro­gram en­com­passes full un­der grad­u­ate and grad­u­ate de­grees, all taught in English from Psy­chol­ogy, En­trepreneur­ship and Busi­ness to Com­puter Sci­ence, Govern­ment, Sus­tain­abil­ity and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions. While the ma­jor­ity of for­eign stu dents come from North Amer­ica, there are a sig­nifi cant num­ber of stu­dents who hail from Europe and Latin Amer­ica, China, and Africa. The univer­sity also has a spe­cial pro­gram that brings stu­dents from Afri can coun­tries such as Rwanda, So­ma­lia, and South Su dan, whose fam­i­lies were per­se­cuted and even killed This, ex­plains Davis, is an­other ex­am­ple of the hu man­is­tic form of Zion­ism prac­ticed at IDC.

Davis says that 60% of the School’s in­ter­na­tiona stu­dents make Aliyah, and he adds, “It’s an un­con­ven tional Zion­ist tool to make Is­rael a bet­ter coun­try.” He

as high hopes for those who re­main in Is­rael per­maently, and says, “We want the 60% that stay here to ecome pro­duc­tive ci­ti­zens. Let them be­come memers of the Knes­set. Let them change things in this oun­try and help make it a bet­ter place.” Those who eturn to their com­mu­ni­ties over­seas, he says, can beome great am­bas­sadors for Is­rael re­gard­less of their eli­gion or creed. “A 3-year de­gree in Is­rael,” says Dais, “where a stu­dent has the op­por­tu­nity to weigh the luses and mi­nuses of Is­rael, is an ex­pe­ri­ence that is ar greater than a short 2-month pro­gram.” Davis points out that the gath­er­ing of stu­dents from round the world, both in for­mal ed­u­ca­tional set­tings s well as in­for­mal ones pro­vides a use­ful ed­u­ca­tional dvan­tage. “One of the re­ally great ben­e­fits for stuents and pro­fes­sors is that they can learn from each ther and un­der­stand the na­tional char­ac­ter of pe­ole who come from these dif­fer­ent coun­tries. Peo­ple rom dif­fer­ent na­tional back­grounds have dif­fer­ent pproaches to psy­chol­ogy, eco­nomics, and other subects. “To a great ex­tent,” he says, “the pro­fes­sors are n a sit­u­a­tion where they can learn things that they ouldn’t learn from text­books.”

Davis re­veals that one of the se­crets of the suc­cess f IDC’s In­ter­na­tional School is the level of care and on­cern pro­vided by the school’s ad­min­is­tra­tion. It’s TLC – ten­der lov­ing care,” he says. “We have a ull-time per­son whose job is to take the per­son by he hand to solve all of the bu­reau­cratic prob­lems of srael that the stu­dent might face when they come ere alone.” Davis’s staff is flu­ent in many lan­guags, in­clud­ing English, French, Ger­man, and Span­ish, nd, he adds, they are sym­pa­thetic to needs of for­eign tu­dents. “Our staff feels the soul of the stu­dents and den­ti­fies with them.” Davis says that sur­veys taken ach year have con­sis­tently shown that IDC’s in­ter­per­onal re­la­tions be­tween stu­dents and staff are among he high­est of uni­ver­si­ties in Is­rael. This is epit­o­mized y the fact that IDC does not have a fac­ulty club on am­pus, where pro­fes­sors eat apart from the stu­dents. There is one cafe­te­ria, and stu­dents stand in line with rays to­gether with the pro­fes­sors. The stu­dent is our art­ner.”

Davis, a na­tive Cal­i­for­nian, came to Is­rael in 1969 o study on a one-year pro­gram at He­brew Univer­sity while a stu­dent at Columbia Univer­sity, stayed, and om­pleted his de­gree in Is­rael. He was a lone sol­dier, erved in the army for three years in a para­trooper re­on­nais­sance unit in the Yom Kip­pur War, as well as in he First Le­banon War. Davis presently serves as a Lt. olonel Re­serves, and is proud of that fact that the in­er­na­tional stu­dents have served un­der his com­mand n re­serve duty. His de­sire and in­ter­est in help­ing forign stu­dents un­doubt­edly stems from the dif­fi­cult on­di­tions that he faced, as a sin­gle im­mi­grant in the arly 1970s. “I’ve come full cir­cle,” he says. “I have fun oing what I do.”

In ad­di­tion to the Raphael Re­ca­nati In­ter­na­tionl School, IDC Her­zliya en­com­passes ten dif­fer­ent chools with a va­ri­ety of un­der­grad­u­ate and gradute pro­grams. MA pro­grams are of­fered in Busi­ness, nglish, Health Man­age­ment, Diplo­macy, Countr-ter­ror­ism, and nu­mer­ous other sub­jects. The Harry adzyner Law School is of­fer­ing a new Mas­ter’s pro­ram in Law, tech­nol­ogy, and busi­ness in­no­va­tion, which is the first of its kind in Is­rael. The Abba Eban nsti­tute for In­ter­na­tional Diplo­macy is rev­o­lu­tion­iz­ing Is­rael’s for­eign pol­icy while strength­en­ing its in­ter­na­tional im­age. IDC, says Davis, pro­vides its stu­dents with a prac­ti­cal tool­box of skills that they can put to use in their work lives. As ex­am­ples, he cites the school’s en­trepreneur­ship club, which helps startup stu­dents de­velop prac­ti­cal skills, and the de­bat­ing team, which teaches stu­dents to com­mu­ni­cate and state po­si­tions in a nor­ma­tive, civil fash­ion. “One of the dif­fer­ences be­tween us and other uni­ver­si­ties,” says, Davis, “is that we want our stu­dents to hit the ground run­ning when they fin­ish, in or­der to get a prac­ti­cal ap­proach to life. We have a startup and en­tre­pre­neur­ial ap­proach.” Par­tic­i­pa­tion of the stu­dents in the an­nual Her­zliya and counter-ter­ror­ism con­fer­ences also provde a great ex­pe­ri­ence for the stu­dents and in­tro­duces them to the movers and shak­ers of Is­rael. Hun­dreds of IDC Her­zliya grad­u­ates, says Davis, are do­ing grad­u­ate work at top schools around the world, in­clud­ing Har­vard, Yale, and Columbia, and at lead­ing in­sti­tu­tions in Europe, such as Ox­ford and Cam­bridge. IDC also of­fers ex­change pro­grams with 120 uni­ver­si­ties around the world, and third-year stu­dents can spend a se­mes­ter over­seas. IDC is cer­ti­fied by the Coun­cil of Higher Ed­u­ca­tion in Is­rael, and the Coun­cil has au­tho­rized IDC Her­zliya to award PhD de­grees, which will make it the first pri­vate univer­sity in Is­rael.

Stu­dents come from through­out Is­rael, from the Galil, Negev, and Is­rael’s cen­ter, as well as from the pe­riph­ery. Davis adds that IDC of­fers spe­cial schol­ar­ships to stu­dents from eco­nom­i­cally de­prived homes, as well as the Ray of Light pro­gram which en­ables highly mo­ti­vated young peo­ple with great aca­demic po­ten­tial, who come from a weaker so­cioe­co­nomic back­ground, to ac­quire an aca­demic de­gree in com­puter sci­ence, ac­count­ing, or Eco­nomics and En­trepreneur­ship. It also of­fers schol­ar­ships and monthly stipends to over 50 Ethiopian stu­dents in the Is­rael at Heart pro­gram. An­other vi­sion of Prof. Re­ich­man to al­ways keep ahead of the game is the de­vel­op­ment of an In­no­va­tion Cen­ter, where Neu­ro­science, Com­puter sci­ence, Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, Psy­chol­ogy, AI, Big Data, Me­dia lab, high-tech, and in­dus­try will sit un­der one roof and work with stu­dents and fac­ulty.

Un­der­grad­u­ate or grad­u­ate, in­ter­na­tional or lo­cal, IDC’s goals for its stu­dents are the same, says Davis. “Our job is to make the stu­dents into the best of the best for the ben­e­fit of the state of Is­rael. We are here to do good for the coun­try.” Twenty-five years and 27,000 alumni later, the coun­try agrees. ■

600 Raphael Re­ca­nati In­ter­na­tional Stu­dents visit the grave of Ben Gu­rion

Pro­fes­sor Re­ich­man and Jonathan Davis with a num­ber of the 60 ital­ian stu­dents on cam­pus.

JD in the Negev with RRIS staff and stu­dents.

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