Joseph Klafter was chosen yesterday as the next president of Tel Aviv University. A large majority of the university's faculty senate voted in favor of Klafter, which was followed by a decision by the university's executive council to appoint the chemistry professor.

Klafter will succeed Zvi Galil, who left the position amid controversy over what was seen as the dominance of outside executive council representatives at the expense of faculty members.

Shortly after the faculty senate vote, Klafter said all parties involved in the university administration agree that there is a "need for a change in the university constitution to restore the necessary checks and balances."

He also said that the executive council, the board of governors and the senate agree about "the need to strengthen the authority of the president, the status of the board of governors and the power of the senate, and this is also accepted by those in whose hands the power currently rests, the executive council."

In response, a source close to the executive council said "the changes to the constitution will be relatively small in the context of terms dictated by the planning and budgeting committee [of the Council for Higher Education] on the subject of the structure of governance at universities."

Executive council chairwoman Leora Meridor said the selection of Klafter "makes it clear that the members of the faculty are crying out at the moment for a new leadership approach."

Broad backing

The new president has been a member of the chemistry faculty at Tel Aviv University since 1987, and for the past seven years has chaired the Israel Science Foundation. The choice of Klafter attracted the support of 213 faculty senate members, with 24 voting against and 20 abstaining.

With regard to the recent controversy over the governance of the university, Klafter said, "The breach must be closed and the executive council and the board of governors must work together now for the benefit of the institution. Actually times of serious crisis can provide the opportunity to present great vision."