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A panel comprised of professors from all the universities is demanding an explanation of Prof. Zvi Galil's resignation as president of Tel Aviv University last week.

"When a president ends his term with 24 hours' notice, the matter deserves a proper explanation," the universities' Inter-Senate Committee for the Defense of Academic Independence said in a statement. "The university's management committee is not entitled to hide behind a veil of silence."

Moreover, it said, Galil's resignation substantiated its "fears of the process the Finance Ministry has led in recent years of granting excessive authority to the universities' management committees. A large proportion of these committees' members are alien to the university experience of research and teaching."

Last week, when Galil quit unexpectedly after only two years on the job, TAU faculty members attributed his resignation to his ongoing friction with management committee, which is comprised largely of businessmen. He announced his departure right after a particularly tense meeting of the committee.

In response, TAU's management committee noted that almost half its members are senior academics, that both chairwoman Leora Meridor and half the public representatives on the panel took office only three months ago, and that since then, there had been no attempt to transfer any powers from the president to the management committee. The committee's sole concern, it added, is "maintaining the university's economic stability."