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As the new millennium approached, coinciding with the start of the Weizmann Institute's second half-century, we pledged to spare no effort to ensure the Institute's continued tradition of excellence in science.
Members of the Institute's Board of Governors, together with many other supporters, undertook the ambitious Jubilee Endowment Drive, aimed at doubling the permanent fund that underpins the Institute's operations.
Last year we celebrated the successful fulfillment of our pledge. Having accomplished far more than we set out to achieve, we rejoiced in the building of additional facilities and the establishment of a wide range of new scientific centers. We are confident that their research fruits, when ripe, will greatly contribute to the Institute's future.
Certainly, our celebration was well earned and exceedingly fitting. Yet we dare not consider our job complete. On the contrary, such accomplishments bring with them an even higher responsibility. Our endowment has, to be sure, reached a record high. Now it must be managed carefully to ensure that it optimizes its potential over time.
Likewise, the increasing pace of scientific and technological advance creates a demand for a virtually constant review of the Institute's research priorities and programs, as well as of the equipment needed by our scientists - as they continue to seek the origins of disease, attempt to better understand the natural world, and explore a myriad of puzzles across the spectrum of basic and applied science. Furthermore, the serious and thoughtful effort to define the vital balance between so-called basic and applied research will not only drive future research priorities and budget decisions; it may reach to the very core of the Weizmann Institute and its relationship with its scientists.
It is customary to begin the Annual Report of the Weizmann Institute with some words by the President describing recent developments and outlining current challenges faced by the Institute. In writing my 12th and last annual message as President, however, I am permitting myself a somewhat more personal approach.
On December 1, 2001, I will be leaving office after 13 years as President of the Weizmann Institute. These 13 years span three different decades and two centuries. During this time, scientific research has remained an exciting intellectual endeavor, but has also acquired an increasingly economic and industrial dimension. The explosion in hi-tech and biotechnology and the impending marriage of the information and genetic revolutions have all occurred during this period. We have also seen the collapse of the Soviet Empire and the immigration to Israel of a million Jews from the former Soviet Union, including hundreds who have joined the Institute. We have endured the Gulf War, two Palestinian intifadas, and numerous acts of terror, which, fortunately, did not touch the Institute or its employees directly. We have strengthened our scientific relations with the European Union without diminishing our close collaboration with individual European countries, first among which is Germany. We have witnessed the arrival at the Institute of numerous young scientists from China, India, and other Asian countries, and the first few Arab scientists from countries who have begun scientific relations with Israel.
The Institute itself has changed dramatically. At the end of 1988 we had an endowment of $130 million and an accumulated deficit of approximately $50 million. Today our endowment exceeds $500 million and the deficit has been eliminated. During these years, we raised a staggering $1 billion in donations – directed partly to new construction and partly to new endowments, with the rest allocated to ongoing operations. Our external research grants have doubled; they now exceed 1,000 at any given time, totaling almost $50 million per annum. More than half of our current 200 tenured professors joined us during this period, establishing a new generation of outstanding scientists, while the founding fathers of most of the original scientific departments have retired.
We express our admiration and gratitude for all that Haim has done. Moreover, our new leadership knows well that it can rely on him to continue sharing his wisdom, experience, and great skills in the service of the Weizmann Institute.