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המכללה האקדמית בית ברל > English > About Us > News > Newsletter > December 2020 Newsletter > Beit Berl’s New President: “We Must Embrace Change”

Beit Berl’s New President: “We Must Embrace Change”

Beit Berl College’s new President, Professor Yael (“Yuli”) Tamir, is eager to face the challenges that lie ahead, drawing on her extensive experience in the highest echelons of both academia and government in her new role.

Throughout her professional life, Yuli Tamir has sought out change for the betterment of society and for the State of Israel. She served as Member of Israel's Knesset from 2003 to 2010, representing the Labor Party. Tamir served as Minister of Immigration (1999-2001), Minister of Education (2006-2009), Deputy Speaker of the Knesset, and member of the Finance, Education, and Security & Foreign Affairs committees, among others.

Her academic career is equally impressive. Tamir received her PhD in political philosophy from the University of Oxford, where she studied under Sir Isaiah Berlin. She was a professor at Tel Aviv University and scholar-in-residence at Princeton, Harvard, European University in Florence, Central European University in Budapest, NYU and Penn, today serving as adjunct professor at Oxford's Blavatnik School of Government. For the past ten years, Tamir led Shenkar College of Engineering and Design as its President.

Prof. Tamir believes the current pandemic is accelerating an important process of change in many fields, including education. Beit Berl, like the rest of the academic world, will have to find the right balance between preserving and rethinking.

Tamir: "The teaching profession is going through a real revolution during Covid-19. We are entering a decade of changes to the education system that will allow it to adjust to the new circumstances and to adapt to an age where technology will overtake much of the teaching process. Already, both teachers and students have expectations for a more innovative and open type of education. We don't know yet where it will go, but we must be confident enough to experiment. We must not fear change. We should reflect on everything we do – our curricula, our infrastructure, our research – and ask; does it fit the new reality? This is a huge task."

Tamir sees Beit Berl College's faculty as its foremost asset.

Tamir: "Our faculty does astonishing work thinking about moral, civic and scientific issues in fascinating ways. We have a strong faculty with tremendous spirit and energy; and we can build on these strengths."

She credits the faculty with the College's ability to adjust rapidly and efficiently to the Covid-19 crisis, swiftly transitioning to online teaching and ensuring that students continue to receive the best possible education.

Tamir believes Beit Berl's unique diversity is an invaluable asset.

Tamir: "Our diversity is an advantage because it makes us open to the social and cultural changes in Israel. It gives us an opportunity to think of innovation in the sense of adapting to the changes in Israeli society."

Tamir's many years in key government positions – in particular her tenure as Minister of Education – have made her acutely aware of the need for greater equality in Israel's education system, including in academia. "The economic and educational gaps are enormous. Part of our mission is to address them."

Her experience as Minister of Education has led Tamir to view education system-wide. She believes the government should provide greater financial support for teacher training, while reducing its rigid requirements, allowing teachers and principals greater autonomy.

Tamir: "There are many ways to become a good teacher. We would like to give greater freedom to choose, and to diversify the way we teach and learn."

In line with this vision, she has already initiated a new Hub for Innovative Teaching at Beit Berl, set to open this month. The Hub will offer an interactive learning and experimental space from which new knowledge and teaching techniques will spread – within the College, and in Israel's larger educational community.

Tamir's enthusiasm for her new role as President of Beit Berl largely stems from her commitment to Israeli youth.

Tamir: "We must trust young people and not patronize them. I believe that young people know so much more about the future than we do. I want to learn from them, and to understand how to be relevant to what they need. That is why I am in education."

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