Update: UNF’s controversial partnership with University of Haifa

Victoria Reed

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UNF signed a controversial agreement that establishes a partnership with the University of Haifa during a recent trip to Israel with Governor Ron DeSantis.

“This agreement will allow for student exchanges, faculty exchanges, joint supervision of students, joint research projects, study abroad programs, and teaching partnerships via distance learning,” said Daniel Moon, Professor/Interim Associate Provost at UNF.

Moon says the agreement will allow each institution to strengthen its expertise and knowledge and will also help students and faculty at both institutions gain a more global perspective.

But, not everyone agrees with this new partnership.

In a letter to the editor​, David Jaffee, another professor at UNF, expressed his disappointment with the universities’ involvement in DeSantis trip to Israel and the partnership with the University of Haifa. A trip he characterized as “politically motivated.”

“Universities and their faculty should not allow themselves to be used as political pawns,” said Jaffee.

Meanwhile, Florida is the home to one of the largest Jewish populations in the U.S. Those who oppose the trip view it as a ploy designed to gain Jewish voters for the 2020 presidential election.

“If there were any doubts about the broader political implications, Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson was there to meet with DeSantis in Jerusalem,” said Steve Bousquet in an article​ for South Florida Sun Sentinel.

But Moon says the trip enables UNF to build relationships with the University of Haifa “a world-renowned institution” whose programs and disciplines are aligned with those at UNF, and is a great opportunity to enhance students education and experiences.

“The objective and motivation for our trip to Israel was to create exciting new opportunities for UNF’s students and faculty,” said Moon.

According to Moon, the next step for the new partnership is to develop initiatives in the areas of Maritime Construction and Coastal Engineering, and there are also discussions about potentially collaborating in additional areas, like Coastal and Marine Biology.

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