TAU History: The Making of A University
The seeds for what would become world-renowned Tel Aviv University were planted long before the foundation of the modern State of Israel in 1948.
In the early 1930s, prompted by Meir Dizengoff, the then-mayor of Tel Aviv, the Biological-Pedagogical Institute and the School of Law and Economics were founded in Israel's central region. These two post-secondary education facilities formed the origins of what would soon become one of the world's most respected and renowned research universities.
Laying the Cornerstone
Haim Levanon, the deputy mayor of Tel Aviv in the early 1950s and the mayor from 1953 to 1959, energetically campaigned for the founding of a second Israeli university in Tel Aviv.
Success came in 1953. Located in southern Tel Aviv, the Biological-Pedagogical Institute was transformed into the Academic Institute of Natural Sciences by the Municipal Council of Tel Aviv-Jaffa on August 16 of that year; Prof. Heinrich Mendelssohn predicted that this would "form the core of a future university." The Academic Institute of Jewish Studies was founded the following year at Abu Kabir, and a library, laboratories and classrooms were opened.
In 1955, the cornerstone was laid in Ramat Aviv for the Trubowicz Building, the first building to be constructed on what would later become the TAU campus; it was completed in 1959. With the determination of the first president of Tel Aviv University, Dr. George Wise, it was incorporated into TAU ten years later.
The University of Tel Aviv was authorized to begin granting degrees after the accreditation process by the Council for Higher Education was begun in 1960. Six departments offered bachelor's degrees; one department, microbiology, was also authorized to grant master's degrees. By the time the Ramat Aviv campus was dedicated in 1964 at a ceremony attended by the prime minister and president of Israel, the student body had grown to 3,174.
Forever Into the Future
The university's first Academic Planning Committee set the path for the future growth of the school in 1966. The committee defined the school's aims: to be a research university, building upon its solid foundation in the sciences; to adopt and promote the highest academic and research standards; and to attract top personnel and provide the best facilities for its students. Three years later, Tel Aviv University received full accreditation from the Council for Higher Education, but the school hadn't waited: it was already providing a high quality education to thousands of students. And it had already gained a national and international reputation for its groundbreaking work in understanding and improving the world in which we live.