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of Chemistry

History of the Chemistry Department at BGU

The Chemistry Department was established in 1968, before the Israeli Government decided to open the Ben-Gurion University (at that time it was called the University of the Negev). At the beginning the department was active as a service unit in chemical studies to the Departments of Biology and Chemical Engineering. It took about a year to convince the University Authorities that there is no future for service department, and thus the early pioneers started to recruit young chemists to fill the needs of teaching and at the same time to build new and modern courses in chemistry for undergraduate studies in chemistry. After 2 extensive years the chemistry department opened its gates as about 50% of the courses in chemistry were new and not studied elsewhere in Israel. The first class for B.Sc. started in 1971 and at the same time studies toward M.Sc. and Ph.D. were initiated under the supervision of the Weizmann Institute for several years and then we became completely independent of other higher education bodies.

The research fields were devoted to such disciplines not much developed in other Universities, knowing that in order to attract high level students we have to be unique, not to compete with our limited sources with well-established research groups in other Universities.

The number of Faculty members was relative low while having many service courses on top of the chemistry studies thus the teaching load was very heavy for many years. Only after some 20 years the Department got an increase in new positions and thus the research fields were more diversified and enabled the department to recruit more and high level students for Master and Doctorate studies.

All Faculty members (except one) at the early stages were lecturers and senior lecturers and there was much pressure from the Academic management of the University to recruit Full Professors to run the Department. The young Faculty objected this and managed well in all aspects of the Department (teaching, research and management) and became the leading entity in the Faculty of Natural Sciences as well as in the University at large in aspects of research grants (in terms of numbers of approved grants and sum of money recruited) and chemistry studies as compared to other universities in Israel.

 Prof. Arnon Shani - Head of the department 1972-1973 / 1978-1980