Prof. Shimon Marom
Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs
The Office for Academic Staff handles the appointment, tenure and promotion of faculty and teaching adjuncts, sabbaticals and vacations, trips abroad, the appointment and handling of postdocs and academic visitors, scholarships and prizes. As a result of the events surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, we displayed flexibility regarding the tenure process timetable and relaxed the criteria for the approval of sabbaticals, vacations, and trips.
New Faculty Recruitment
I was greatly concerned about the effects of the pandemic, which erupted precisely during recruitment season. However, things turned out for the better. To date, 34 new faculty members have been recruited, of whom 31 will join us in the next academic year (starting Oct 2020), one will arrive in October 2021 and two will join the Jacobs Institute during 2021. I am quite certain that the number will be even greater, since several appointment letters are waiting to be signed by additional candidates. The number of faculty members at Technion will increase accordingly. In the 2019-2020 academic year there were 563 faculty members (not including three at Jacobs); in 2020-21 there will be 579 (not including five at Jacobs). As in recent years, approximately 70% of the positions offered were accepted. I would like to thank the Deans, the Senate committee members, the Departmental Administrations, and the Faculty Office, who swiftly and efficiently adapted to the new work culture that was thrust upon us by circumstances beyond our control. Like farmers during a drought year, we clung to the hope that comes with planting a new crop; during these difficult times, as individuals and as a community, these new appointments are a source of joy and optimism.
It is too early to say how the number of postdocs will be affected by the COVID crisis, but for now the damage appears to be minimal. In the 2019-20 academic year, approximately 370 postdocs began their fellowships (compared to around 400 the previous year, of which 280 were from overseas). Approximately 20 more are supposed to arrive in the next month and we are trying to obtain special visas for them to enter Israel. Some of the postdocs began their internship from afar. I would like to point out that if Technion research groups will be able to recruit first-rate postdocs that were trained in other Israeli research institutes, perhaps some good will have come out of the situation in which we find ourselves. This will have an impact on the profile of candidates for the coming years.
In addition to the regular workload, we are trying to promote several new initiatives.
>> The process of digitizing the Faculty Office is complete. This process began under the former VP for Academic Affairs, Prof. Hagit Attiya. We are now paper-free and are expanding this to our interaction with all academic units.
>> A system for appointments and promotions on the China campus has been put in place and the academic regulations have been modified accordingly.
>> With the help of Prof. Ariel Orda, who is our liaison with the Jacobs Institute in New York, and based on our experience to date, we are in the process of establishing guidelines and practices that will regulate working with Cornell Tech.
>> Together with the Deans, we are in advanced stages of formulating a proposal to change the academic regulations regarding appointment and promotion procedures. We are also in the process of redefining the make-up of our academic faculty. This includes streamlining the teaching faculty into a single track; defining the status of research fellows in order to improve our ties with industry, and defining the rank of ‘professor of practice’ and ‘professor of creative arts’ as per the Council for Higher Education guidelines. I hope to present the proposal to the Steering Committee and the Senate at the start of the new academic year.
>> A committee headed by Prof. Ilan Marek was established to promote the nomination of Technion faculty members for prizes and awards.
>> On the recommendation of the Senate, a committee was created to formulate an ethical code of conduct for faculty members and senior management. I hope to present the fruits of our labor in the new academic year.
>> Other important issues include: remuneration for additional workload; obtaining permission to work outside; and the status/appointment of distinguished professors.