technion - Dror Artzi / Jini - November 1 2010
The Technion campus in Haifa. The issue of sexual harassment in academia has at last been regulated. Photo by Dror Artzi / Jini
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The Technion is just one of three non-American academic institutions to receive an offer from New York City to help it develop a "world-class science and technology research institution" in New York.

The academic institutions, which also include American Ivy League universities like Columbia and Cornell, have until mid-March to submit an initial proposal for the center, after which those who make it past the first round can participate in a formal bidding process.

"This is an unusual compliment and shows our international standing," said Peretz Lavie, president of Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.

Lavie said the offer, which was officially made in a December 22 letter from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, did not come as a surprise.

"Talks about the possibility of establishing a science and technology institution in New York began about a year ago," said Lavie. "We were asked if we have experience in setting up new branches. We don't have much of that kind of experience, but we have certainly accumulated wide-scale knowledge in developing curricula. We made a few suggestions, which were apparently readily accepted."

Lavie said New York wants the research center to influence the city's economy, prompting the Technion's suggestion that it start off by teaching subjects like electrical engineering and computer science, and provide students with practical experience from the outset.

But for all the preliminary discussions, the Technion, which the letter describes as having an "outstanding reputation in the academic and research community," has yet to decide whether it will submit a proposal, given the short time frame and the financial constraints faced by the Haifa-based university and other Israeli institutions of higher education. It is expected to make a decision within the coming days.

If it does participate, the Technion can expect "a significant commitment in the form of capital and city-controlled land," Bloomberg said in the letter.

"As we learn more about your vision for Technion-Israel Institute of Technology's presence in New York, we will work closely with you to ensure the optimal degree of support to achieve your ambitions and priorities," he said.

Although the letter does not mention a specific sum, Technion administrators said New York City municipal officials told them the city plans to spend $100 million on the research institution and is searching for a suitable site within the five boroughs.

Technion representatives said they were trying to find out whether students who attend the new institution would get a degree from a U.S. institution or one from the Technion, if it is selected as New York City's partner in the venture.

If the Technion does end up taking part in the final bidding process, it is likely to attempt to work with other universities to come up with its final proposal, which the rules allow.