Jan. 06, 2013

BGU President Prof. Rivka Carmi signed an agreement with the Israel Lands Administration (ILA) today in the presence of Housing and Construction Minister Ariel Atias to lease a 57-acre tract of land adjacent to the Marcus Family Campus in Beer-Sheva. According to the agreement, the first building project will be new dormitories on this new north campus. ILA Director-General Benzi Lieberman and University Vice President and Director-General David Bareket were also present at the signing.

Dormitories with 1,000 beds will be built within four years with a potential expansion to 2,500 beds. The north campus is a 57-acre area across the train tracks from the main university campus in the direction of the Ramot neighborhood. “This is an historic step which will shape the character and identity of the university in the next 50 years,” Carmi said.

Atias said he was moved to be here today because the signing represented the end of a long struggle. “There was a long debate as to whether the land should be used for the profits it could reap or to benefit the citizens of Israel. The land must be used for citizens,” he said. The land that will be used for dormitory space was given to the university for free. The other parts of the north campus will be leased.

The agreement comes as part of a government directive to provide 10,000 more beds for students.

“Even though we are building in the center of the country, I came to the periphery because I feel more connected to it,” Atias, whose grandparents lived in the Daled neighborhood of Beer-Sheva, said at the signing.

Lieberman of the ILA noted that 1600 beds would be added in the Negev.

“We have five years of opportunity ahead of us to bring more students and their families and more IDF personnel and their families to the South,” he said.

Bareket added, “The significance of adding the north campus is to double the university’s area. I want to take this opportunity to thank the ILA for this important decision which will enable us to strengthen the university, by, among other things, increasing the number of students and building more classrooms and laboratories. It is important to stress that this process compliments the IDF’s move to the Negev.”