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BGU Community Unites to Tackle COVID-19

BGU Community Unites to Tackle COVID-19

May 22, 2020

Negev Development & Community Programs

The Jerusalem Post — “The novel coronavirus, SARSCoV-2, spread across the globe, reminding people that regardless of borders, race, religion, or economic system, we are all interconnected,” says Jeff Kaye, BGU vice president for public affairs and resource development.

BGU Vice President for Public Affairs Jeff Kaye

At the onset of the pandemic, classes quickly moved online at record speed, without its 20,000 enrolled students missing a single day.

Faculty and staff found new tools to communicate information, and many students who moved out of their dormitories learned how to study from their parents’ home or with little or no support network.

The University took immediate and bold action providing them with generous economic aid, even permitting them to cancel their dorm contract penalty-free.

By leveraging its unique academic strengths, BGU understood the greater role it had to play in fighting the pandemic. “‘How are we going to mobilize our best and brightest to help the immediate, wider Israeli and overseas community?’ we asked ourselves.

“We understood this was not about us, but about everyone everywhere,” Kaye explains.

On March 11 – when people could still meet face-to-face – BGU President Prof. Daniel Chamovitz convened a meeting at which the school’s researchers, doctors and scientists came up with 50 ideas for how to help during the pandemic.

BGU President Prof. Daniel Chamovitz

To fund this research, the University raised more than $400,000 from existing and new donors, even under conditions of great economic distress and panic.

Donations are still coming in from all over the world, including from remote and unexpected places such as Columbia and Malaysia.

Recently, BGU held a virtual experience to mark its 50th anniversary and celebrate its remarkable achievements. Described as one of the most moving events, supporters from Argentina, U.S., Canada, Italy, the UK, Belgium, and other countries joined. Many participants were older members of the BGU board who had been isolated for weeks, and it was reported that there was not a dry eye on the screen.

Click on the image below to watch the president’s remarks.

President Prof. Daniel Chamovitz: BGU Past and Future, May 2020

BGU is keenly aware of how its supporters have been impacted from the coronavirus, and is taking action to provide comfort and solidarity to the community.

Americans for Ben-Gurion University’s webinars continue to provide a platform for educating about various aspects of the virus. This year’s virtual Passover seder where Prof. Chamovitz invited donors into his home via a live feed, was a way to give back to the community.

Moving forward, post-coronavirus will require introspection. “The coronavirus taught us all an incredible lesson: In the same way viruses don’t recognize borders or boundaries, we have to look and see the global community and our mutual responsibility,” Kaye says.

“This is true for the pandemic, the environment, food security, water, and more. We have proven that when we pool our resources and our thoughts, we can do much more. I think BGU is doing that and will continue to be at the forefront.”

Today, BGU is the fastest growing research university in the country. Once the emergency is over, “we will resume our plans to build our new North Campus, which will double our size and prepare the University for an ambitious strategic plan that will attract the most promising and exceptional young academics from Israel and overseas. This will be the next significant step toward a level of excellence unknown until now in Israel, and apt for the next 50 years.

More than 70 initiatives are now underway as part of the BGU COVID-19 Response Effort.  These each require financial support, and Americans for Ben-Gurion University has announced its commitment to raise emergency funds, enabling BGU to participate fully in the world’s efforts at mitigation and containment. Contributions can be made here.

Read more in The Jerusalem Post  >>