fall 2013

A New President for Open University of Israel:
Prof. Jacob (Kobi) Metzer

Jacob (Kobi) Metzer, Professor (Emeritus) of Economics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, was appointed to serve as the eighth President of the Open University of Israel, replacing Professor Hagit Messer-Yaron, who will be assuming the position of Deputy Chair of the Council for Higher Education.

Prof. Metzer has wide experience in academic life in both Israel and overseas. He completed his undergraduate degree in economics and history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and received his master's and doctorate in economics from the University of Chicago. Prof. Metzer is an economic historian and a substantial part of his research has been devoted to the economy of Mandatory Palestine and Israel, and to economic aspects of ethno-nationality and settler societies.

He held a number of positions at the Hebrew University, among them: Head of the Department of Economics, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Member of the Executive Committee of the University, Founding Chairperson of the University Library Authority, and most recently Chairperson of the Academic Board of the Magnes Press. He held visiting professorships at leading universities, including: Berkeley, Stanford, Northwestern, and the London School of Economics, and served on the Editorial Board of major economic history Journals. He was a member of the Executive Committee of the International Economic History Association, and President of the Israel Economic Association.

Prof. Metzer says: "The uniqueness of the Open University -- the fact that it provides equal opportunities, without barriers to entry, to everyone who is interested in higher education, while uncompromising the quality of instruction and research -- makes the University an institution of special social value within Israel's academic landscape. I therefore see the opportunity granted to me to lead the University, a great privilege and a challenging mission.

"As President, it is my intention to continue the excellent work of my predecessors in maintaining and developing the university as a learning institution with open gates to all, reaching out to the public at large, and at the same time nurturing its qualities as a serious research university. I consider it seminally important to continue the efforts to integrate into the University population groups whose exposure to higher education has been limited such as: Arabs, Ultra-Orthodox, and Ethiopian immigrants, and to raise the number of students from the periphery. In the area of teaching: updating existing courses, developing new courses and programs, and continuously improving the system of online learning, seem to me essential means for retaining the position of the Open University of Israel, and for advancing it within our dynamic academic environment. In the field of research, I see great importance in reinforcing the position of OUI as a research university, and in promoting the research activity of the University faculty by allocating needed resources and providing appropriate incentives.

"I am convinced that the well known esprit de corps and devotion characterizing the members of the OUI community will enable us to navigate the university in the coming years in a spirit of cooperation and deep commitment to be shared by each of us individually, and by all of us collectively."