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This year will complete my term in office as the Chair of the Board of Governors. I am pleased that I have been able to travel widely throughout the Weizmann world, despite the need to deal with a serious family illness, to see firsthand the strength and dedication of the national Weizmann organizations and the remarkable professional staffs and devoted lay leaders who make them successful. Without their support, the Weizmann Institute of Science could not achieve the world-class scientific stature it so richly deserves.
I have traveled tens of thousands of miles, from Florida to Toronto, from New York to Zurich, from Washington to London and Brussels, and, of course, repeatedly to Israel, spreading the word, raising our visibility, and providing encouragement to those who often work far from the beautiful Weizmann campus but have the Institute in their hearts and minds every day.
In addition to traveling, I joined the board of directors of Yeda and participated actively. Its annual stream of revenues is critically important to Weizmann in this time of budget stringency. I have also benefited from participation in the regular Executive Commitee meetings, ensuring continuing oversight of Institute activities. In order to create a cohesive partnership with the Deputy Chairs of the Board of Governors, I arranged regular briefing sessions for them with our President, Prof. Ilan Chet, to make sure they have real-time information about developments on campus.
We face significant financial challenges ahead. That is why, in my term in office, we launched the Global Partnership Campaign for Excellence in Science; our objective is to increase our endowment from today’s $700 million to $1.2 billion and to significantly increase our operating budget over the next five years. Gershon Kekst from the U.S., former Chair of the Board of Governors, will serve as overall Chair of the Campaign, and Bob Drake from the Netherlands will be the operating Chief Executive.
The most satisfying of my responsibilities in the past three years has been the opportunity to work with the professionals at the Institute, starting with President Ilan Chet, with whom I have developed a very close bond and whose leadership I greatly admire. He has been a tireless advocate for the Institute and an effective fundraiser. In the past year, he has shown great skill in successfully negotiating difficult tax issues that threatened the Institute’s finances. Under Chet's leadership, Weizmann is widely recognized as the best-managed, most financially sound of Israel's academic institutions and universities. His administration, including Gadi Kober's tight control over our budget, Sam Safran's assistance as Vice President and Haim Garty's excellent direction of Yeda, has been a model of integrity and excellence. With Ilan Chet’ s term ending in 2006, I have been chairing a search committee to consider the election/reelection of the next Institute President.
I can say without exaggeration, that the Institute has the most dedicated, hard-working, effective group of professionals of any organization with which I have ever come in contact. But most inspirational has been the Institute’s world-class group of scientists. The work they do, from discovering treatments for the most threatening diseases to understanding the physics of the most basic matter, is recognized the world over, and it is nothing short of remarkable. Students and postdoctoral fellows from around the world make the beautiful Weizmann campus a veritable mini-United Nations. Our scientists are widely published in the world's most prestigious scientific journals and receive some of science's most prestigious awards. Their scientific breakthroughs and patents rank Weizmann revenues from science with the top five U.S. academic institutions. Ensuring that they continue to receive all the support, equipment and graduate assistance they need is our most important challenge.
As I depart, my most fervent wish is that the Weizmann family in all its dimensions will go from strength to strength.