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BGU President Builds Negev School into a Powerhouse

BGU President Builds Negev School into a Powerhouse

January 29, 2015

Homeland & Cyber Security, Leadership, Awards & Events

Bloomberg — BGU President Prof. Rivka Carmi, M.D. says her penchant for short skirts almost torpedoed her chance to become the first woman dean of an Israeli medical faculty. Now she’s the country’s first and only female university president.

The pediatric geneticist’s next goal is to turn Ben-Gurion University of the Negev into an internationally recognized research institution and a leader in cyber security work.

BGU President Prof. Rivka Carmi, M.D.

BGU President Prof. Rivka Carmi, M.D.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who sees Israel as a center for technology and expertise to defend against digital attacks, is lending a hand: His cabinet recently approved moving military bases into the 4,700-square-mile desert region that the university, named for Israel’s first prime minister, calls home.

“Quite early on, I identified the potential in our Internet security department,” Carmi, 66, said in an interview at the university. “It wasn’t even called cyber yet.” The tipping point came when Deutsche Telecom AG began investing in the research in 2005.

Prof. Carmi credits her predecessor and mentor, Prof. Avishay Braverman, for jump-starting BGU’s ascension. An economist who served as minister of minorities, Prof. Braverman was the school’s president for 16 years before Prof. Carmi took over in 2006.

Since then, the number of doctoral students has grown by 70 percent, with those who actually complete their doctorates up by a third. Research funding rose by almost 25 percent, to $82 million, and the computer department’s information-security experts has teamed up with the government in the establishment of a cyber-technology center across the street from campus.

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