McMaster visits universities in West Bank and Israel
As part of McMaster’s ongoing academic engagement in Israel and the West Bank, Dr. Peter Mascher, Associate Vice-President of International Affairs was welcomed by Dr. Sabri Saidam, Minister of Education and Higher Education for the Palestinian Authority during a recent visit to the region.
Dr. Mascher was joined by the Representative of Canada to the Palestinian Authority, Katherine Verrier-Fréchette, and the Head of the Political Section at the Representative Office of Canada, Sidney Fisher. Also present from Palestinian Authority were the Acting Director, International and General Relations, Nisreen Yasser Amro, and the Director, International Relations, Nadim Mkhalfeh.
Dr. Saidam stressed the importance of the meeting and briefed the delegation on the realities of higher education in the West Bank. He also expressed the hope of a strong partnership with McMaster University to take advantage of its expertise and breadth of programs and to secure McMaster’s assistance in the provision of quality services for higher education institutions.
Dr. Mascher spoke of McMaster’s belief in the importance of capacity building among universities, including initiatives aimed at facilitating students’ access to future job opportunities; he also pointed out the need to involve the private sector in supporting higher education through a focus on research and the development of specialized programs.
During the meeting, the importance of focusing on professional and technical specializations was discussed, as was the importance of creativity and excellence in education, along with access to expertise and advanced skills and to international expertise in areas of specialized knowledge.
Dr. Mascher, along with Kate Solomon, Political and Trade Secretary at the Canadian Representative Office, also travelled to An-Najah National University to meet with Professor Maher Natsheh, Acting President and Dr. Mohamed Al-Omla, Vice-President for Academic Affairs. They also visited Birzeit University where they met with the Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Henry Jiaqaman.
In his visit to the universities Dr. Mascher stressed the importance of building academic links and partnerships between McMaster University and the Palestinian universities especially in the fields of engineering, physics, chemistry and economics.
“We are keen to establish partnerships with international academic institutions to be able to truly promote cross-border cooperation in terms of research, training and teaching,” says Dr. Mascher. “Our international strategy works well with the government of Canada’s aim to deliver academic and economic assistance to Palestinians.”
The possibility of research collaborations and implementing joint PhD programs in fields of mutual interest was also discussed.
Prior to Dr. Mascher’s visit to the West Bank, he participated in NanoIsrael 2016, a bi-annual meeting for Israeli and multinational companies, investors, university and corporate research scientists and government representatives from around the world. He also visited Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Be’er Sheva, Israel to discuss the development of closer research ties in areas such as materials research, advanced manufacturing, and cognitive sciences.