Professor Joseph Klafter Named TAU's Eighth President Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Internationally renowned physical chemist is chairman of the nation's Israel Science Foundation
Bringing proven scientific leadership experience and an excellent international reputation to the position, Professor Joseph (Yossi) Klafter has been named Tel Aviv University's eighth president.
Prof. Klafter's nomination was ratified by an overwhelming majority of TAU's Senate plenum and unanimously endorsed by its Executive Council on October 21, 2009. Speaking for the committee that recommended his appointment, Prof. Ron Shamir told the Senate, "Beyond his outstanding scientific achievements, Prof. Klafter's personal abilities, character, and grasp of the president's role particularly impressed the Search Committee."
Established leadership in science
Renowned in the field of physical chemistry, Prof. Klafter has served since 2002 as chair of the Academic Board of the Israel Science Foundation, the main institution supporting scientific research in Israel, with an annual budget approaching $70 million.
He is a prolific researcher who has published close to 400 scientific articles, edited 18 books, has been a member of the scientific committees of dozens of national and international conferences, and serves on the editorial boards of six scientific journals. Prof. Klafter is a Fellow of the American Physical Society among other organizations, and has won many prestigious prizes in his field, including the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Prize, the Weizmann Prize for Sciences, the Rothschild Prize in Chemistry, and the Israel Chemical Society Prize.
Dedication to academic excellence
Joseph Klafter received his Ph.D. from Tel Aviv University, working under the legendary Prof. Joshua Jortner, and did post-doctoral studies at MIT from 1978-80.
A member of the TAU faculty since 1988, he chaired the Department of Physical Chemistry from 1990 to 1992 and 1998 to 2002, and concurrently served as head of the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Institute of Chemical Physics. He currently holds the Heinemann Chair of Physical Chemistry.
The Search Committee recommendation noted, "The vision Prof. Klafter brings to the presidency upholds scientific excellence as the core value of the university, and the quality of teaching as an integral part of that. To this end, he believes TAU should strive toward continual renewal and risk-taking to stretch the boundaries of knowledge. He also believes in continual self-examination vis-à-vis the highest international standards, and in focusing efforts on the identification, recruitment and proactive nurturing of the finest new, young faculty members."
Unique set of skills
The Search Committee evaluated 35 candidates for the president's position, arriving at a shortlist of 6. In analyzing the skill set he brings to the post, the committee observed, "Prof. Klafter has a broad understanding of the entire scientific spectrum, as well as a rich background in cooperating with the Council for Higher Education and other government entities that have an impact on the university's operations.
"The Search Committee was impressed by his leadership, his practical abilities, his process of decision making and his intellectual depth. His achievements in running the Israel Science Foundation were exceptional, both scientifically and administratively.
"His leadership style includes seeking advice from others, and building teams that will assist him in advancing specific fields. He also has a strong record in raising funds and donations for advancing new initiatives within the framework of the ISF. He is very open-minded regarding new ideas in diverse areas, and is committed to developing a wide range of disciplines, and especially interdisciplinary research."
A determined leader
Addressing the Senate session at which his appointment was ratified, Prof. Klafter spoke of his "great faith in the enormous potential of our university" and his deep determination to work hard, repair, and build in "a collaborative effort that spans the entire campus: the academic faculty, administrative staff, and students."
Yossi Klafter is a popular choice among all three constituencies, as well as with those supporters and friends of Tel Aviv University — in America and around the world — who have had the opportunity to know him.