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It is not yet a full year since Daniel Zajfman began his presidency. In this short period, the Institute has enjoyed a vibrancy, energy and excitement not witnessed for many years. Daniel's leadership and his able and dynamic team of Vice Presidents: Prof. Israel Bar-Joseph, Prof. Mudi Sheves and Gad Kober, led by Prof. Haim Garty, is inspirational. To be in the vanguard of scientific research, it is necessary to look forward and to "think young" – not to be weighed down by conventional wisdom, but to have a fresh, inquisitive mind. Coupled with our relatively young leadership, we are in daily contact with the young scientists training at the Feinberg Graduate School, which in itself motivates us to seek to be "forever young."
This past year, the Institute entered a new phase of growth and development that will, I am confident, lead to even more productive and exciting scientific discoveries than the impressive achievements of its 70-plus years. The esprit de corps on campus is at a new high, and I hope some of this same spirit will be felt by our Board of Governors. In November, Daniel will present to the Board detailed plans for the further development of our scientific activities, and of our campus.
We continue to formulate our vision encompassing the elements of modern, multidisciplinary research in the life sciences. The first step toward attaining this goal has taken the form of a gift from a new friend of the Institute, Lorry Lokey of the U.S. We will establish a new center for astrophysics, thanks to a generous gift from our close and valued friend, Nella Benoziyo. Another wonderful donation, from our friends Helen and Martin Kimmel, will establish a prestigious prize to support outstanding scientists, enabling them to follow their curiosity. Our longtime friend Raoul de Picciotto has made an especially generous contribution to finance the building of a modern, centralized facility for engineering and scientific services.
We have consolidated, under the umbrella of the Davidson Institute, most of our science education activities aimed at the general public and at the country's school system. The Davidson Institute, chaired by Prof. Haim Harari, is the educational arm of the Weizmann Institute of Science, and it includes the Clore Garden of Science, the Young@Science unit and the "Perach" mentoring project. In the Weizmann spirit of emphasizing science education, the representation of our scientists on the Davidson Institute Board – led by Vice President Prof. Israel Bar-Joseph – has significantly expanded. We have appointed a new director: Dr. Ariel Heimann, who has a background in geology and in public service – both in the IDF and in civic positions. We look forward to continuing success in this endeavor, under the leadership of Haim Harari, Israel Bar-Joseph and Ariel Heimann.
This consolidation, together with our plans to increase the capacity of Feinberg – hopefully by some 25% – will enable Weizmann to significantly advance the understanding and practice of scientific research and to further enable the training of scientists who will be equipped to contribute to industry, academic research and teaching, in Israel and abroad.
Almost half of the graduate students at Feinberg are women, yet only 11% of our senior scientists are women. It is a priority of ours to narrow this gap. I am pleased to report that through the generosity of three of our governors, we have secured the necessary funding to initiate this project, which will be overseen by distinguished Prof. Hadassa Degani.
Last November, I informed the Board that I would appoint a committee to consider our governance procedures and expressed the wish that it be in a position to report on its preliminary findings and recommendations before the meeting of the Board in November '07. This it has done. That committee, chaired by Bob Drake, is well-balanced with experienced and wise members, and hopefully it will have completed its work in time for me to bring a final recommendation to the Board in 2008.
Our fund-raising activities this year have been very successful. Notably, we have received two of the largest gifts from U.S. donors made to our Institute. The strategies for our development presented by Daniel Zajfman have had a compelling effect. We especially thank all of the directors of our supporting committees around the world, Yael Goren-Wegman in Israel, Michael Meyers in Canada, Sheridan Gould in England, Dov Keren-Ya'ar in Europe, Robert Parienti in France. I would like, with profound gratitude, to refer to the wonderful work of Marty Kraar as head of the ACWIS team in the U.S. In the current year we expect gifts to ACWIS to exceed $120 million. This annual quantum has almost quadrupled since Marty joined ACWIS almost 10 years ago. All credit to him and his team. Marty has informed us of his wish to retire in January. We fully understand and needless to say we will always harbor good and kind thoughts about Marty. We wish him and Linda well in their next phase.
This has been another successful year at GEM – the entity that manages our global endowment. Since its inception, the compound rate of return on our investments has been approximately 15% p.a.
In the fiscal year ended 30 June, the growth rate exceeded 21%, and the value of our endowment fund managed by GEM now exceeds $1.1 billion.
We are grateful to Carla Hunter, who manages the GEM office in New York, and to Ron Daniel, who chairs the investment committee. I hope the soundness of GEM's asset allocation, diversification and manager selection will ameliorate some of the inevitable downturns.
We will be nominating some younger candidates for membership of our Board in November, but they are still too few in number. To ensure the future sound governance of the Institute, we need continually to add suitably qualified younger members. Our governors, who have served the Institute so well, should feel free to bring to our attention those whom they believe can carry the torch into the future.
The Weizmann Institute is widely held to be the jewel in Israel's crown, and the more problems this beleaguered land has to contend with, the brighter does the jewel shine. I am proud to be a part of Weizmann, a pride shared by many at all levels in this wonderful country.