Tel Aviv – Feb. 2-5 14
Jerusalem – Feb. 6th 14
Haifa – Feb. 8th 14
The superpower is eclipsed by the tiny Jewish state, in his view, when it comes to the dynamism of its universities.
When Breton became rector in 2010 he vowed to expand the UdeM’s already extensive ties with hundreds of academic institutions around the world. Three countries were in his sights: China, Brazil – as the economic leader of Latin America – and Israel.
In October, he led an intensive 10-day trip to Israel, the first UdeM mission to the country, visiting all seven major universities. The 10 delegates included vice-rector for international relations Hélène David and professors and researchers from departments as diverse as pharmacy, biology, political science, music and medicine. Breton is a former vice-dean of medicine.
Breton said he received no opposition to making Israel a priority, but plenty of questions as to why. Today, he feels vindicated.
“It was an incredible eye-opener,” he said of the mission. “We have a folkloric image of Israel. If you are not close to it, you do not understand the reality. Much more is going on there than we think.”
Breton makes clear he is not interested in entering into political disputes, and has no patience with boycotts. His first job is to educate people, and he is convinced a greater connection with Israel will help him do that.
“I want students to be better trained. Period. Don’t bother me with politics,” he said.
When he speaks of dynamism, Breton means Israeli academics’ ability to “think outside the box; they try to find a solution to a problem, that not only is good for Israel, but could be exportable, that could help others.
“This is what we should be doing everywhere.”
Breton was impressed with the universities’ technology transfer companies, which seek markets for products and ideas coming out of research.
The delegation, led by UDM President Guy Breton, has also begun discussions on possible collaborations with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv University, the Weizmann Institute, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, and Bar-Ilan University.