Bezalel's Senate Calls for Sacking of Executive Chairman

In April, the Council for Higher Education disqualified former Haaretz editor in chief for school's next president because he is not a professor.

The senate of the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design sent its board of trustees a letter on Wednesday demanding the immediate replacement of the executive board chairman and changing the institution's rules to limit the term of the academy's executive board members and chair.

An accumulation of recent events, "culminating in the deficient procedure of choosing Bezalel's president, created an intolerable atmosphere and a feeling of instability, casting doubt on the performance of executive board chairman Zvi Barak," the senate members wrote in their letter.

In April the Council for Higher Education disqualified Hanoch Marmari as the arts school's next president because the former Haaretz editor in chief is not a professor. The letter says the board's approval of a president who falls short of the CHE's minimal requirements severely damaged the academy and its image.

The writers claim that Barak "degraded and offended almost everyone involved [in the procedure] - the candidates for president from among Bezalel's faculty, the candidate who was ultimately chosen, Mr. Hanoch Marmari, the members of the search committee, and the list does not end there."

Marmari had been set to replace Prof. Arnon Zuckerman, who has served as Bezalel president since 2003.

The "inexplicable way" in which current president Zuckerman's term was previously extended has led to a situation in which the president and vice president for academic affairs are retiring at the same time. All these moves, which were backed by the board or at least most of its members, affect Bezalel's stability, the letter says.

In 2009 Barak asked the board of trustees to change the academy's rules to allow executive board members unlimited tenure. Previously, terms were limited to four years with an option to extend them for one more term. The letter from the senate says some members have been on the board for 13 and 11 years, while the chairman has been a board member for 17 years.

According to CHE regulations, executive board members' and chairman's terms should be three years long.

The board of trustees chairman confirmed receiving the letter and said the board would discuss it at its next session.