It’s Israel’s academic version of “Survivor” and there can only be one winner.
But there’s more– the new medical school will likely be created in tandem with a university town, introducing Israeli philanthropy to an unprecedented marriage of academia, business, and entrepreneurship.
All sources place Bar Ilan as the front runner for its public relations campaign and potential donors. Neither Bar Ilan or the University of Haifa have medical schools, although Haifa and the Technion have a prestigious nursing partnership. Bar Ilan, the University of Haifa, and the Weizmann Institute are the only three public universities in Israel without medical schools.
Why a New Medical School?
The impetus for the new medical school sources from the estimate that by 2015, Israel will be facing a shortage of doctors. In recent years, Israel’s medical profession has been buoyed by Russian immigration, with a high percentage of new immigrants arriving as licensed doctors in their own countries.
While the existing university medical schools claim that there is no need for another one– which they say would create unnecessary competition and tax medical resources– this argument appears laughable when you look at the loud evidence to the contrary.
The Ministry of Health recommends doubling the number of new medical professionals entering the field each year, increasing the number to 600 doctors and 800 nurses. Gabi Ben Nun, Director General of the Ministry of Health states, “It takes seven years to fully train a physician and four to train a nurse, that is why we must take action now.”
Why the Galilee?
A recent report by the Galilee Conference found that those living in the Galilee had some of the lowest incomes of any region in Israel.
The Ministry of Health reports that medical school interns eschew Israel’s periphery, preferring to study in the country’s center where resources are most concentrated. Says one intern: “As a new doctor, I want to be exposed to the maximum amount of knowledge, instruments and advanced technologies. Most of my friends prefer to do their internships at one of the hospitals in the center.”
Dr. Shimon Scharf of Ashkelon’s Barzilai Medical Center comments, “It’s a problem for the entire periphery. There is a shortage of doctors, and here it’s most acute. Interns could do a hell of a job here.”
But medical students go where they perceive they will get the best experience. That means, staying in the country’s center– unless something can tempt them elsewhere.
Bar Ilan President Moshe Kaveh explains, “There is dramatic emigration each year from the Galilee, and medical care is a big part of that. The chances of survival for a person with heart attack complications is 50 percent lower in the Galilee than in the country’s center.”
Photo by YNet News
Who are the potential donors to the new medical school? Bar Ilan tells us that they have lined up American real estate entrepreneur Bob Stark with a potential pledge of $500 million.
Stark’s vision is to create a university town around the medical school, complete with shopping center, restaurants, entertainment, and a yeshiva hesdar for student-soldiers. The town would be created near Tsfat.
Stark would lead a group of donors in attempting to raise a significant portion of the estimated $3 to $4 billion needed to create the medical school complex.
Although the Israeli government will be responsible for footing the costs of the medical school’s establishment and operating budget, it is safe to say that major donors will be needed to make the school fully functional and nationally competitive.
Kaveh and Stark will team to raise a minimum of $500 million in initial funding that will go toward getting current Galilee hospitals up to teaching standards, building the medical school and medical research center, and constructing student dormitories.
A Note Trends in Jewish Philanthropy
Bar Ilan’s establishment of a new medical school is interesting in and of itself, but there are a number of trends that we should be aware of here in our study of Jewish philanthropy.
- Bob Stark is an observant Jew. Bar Ilan University is a religious school, the only public university in Israel that has a religious bent. Note that many of the most active and generous donors in Israeli philanthropy tend to be religious Jews– this is a growing trend. Watch for more on religious Jews and Jewish philanthropy in the upcoming Israeli billionaires series
- Stark is the head of Stark Enterprises, a major real estate firm in Cleveland that specializes in designing planned communities. This project will clearly take expertise in real estate and city planning, feeding directly into Stark’s professional experience
- If Bar Ilan wins the bid for sponsorship, Stark’s donation will be the first in the history of Israeli philanthropy to combine academic and business ventures
Let me also add my personal belief that in the next decade we will see a growing trend of Israeli universities partnering with cities and businesses to promote regional economic growth.
Haifa is the ripest example of where this could occur with the University of Haifa, the Technion, and a major hi-tech market all located within the city.
Like what you are reading? Please subscribe by e-mail or feed reader by clicking the sidebar icons.