[This article appeared in the February 13, 2012, edition of Yediot Acharonot and was written by Tamar Tarabelsi-Hadad]
Pnina Gaday - director of Hillel Tel Aviv - was appointed to Israel's Council for Higher Education, the first Ethiopian immigrant ever to hold such a distinction.
"It is a great honor for me to be the first Ethiopian member of the Council for Higher Education," said Pnina Gaday yesterday, "And I hope that this will be an opening for more members of the community to serve in publicly-appointed positions."
Education Minister Gideon Saar, who is also serving as chairman of the Council for Higher Education, decided to appoint Gaday, the director of Hillel Tel Aviv - an international Jewish student organization - as a member of the council. Gaday, who holds a BA in sociology and an MA in public leadership in the framework of the program for directors at Tel Aviv University, immigrated to Israel from Ethiopia with her parents at the age of three.
"It is very rare that members of the community serve in public positions, and therefore my appointment is very exciting for me," she said yesterday. "I have been given the possibility to influence the academic world and to represent the social aspect and weaker populations in higher education. I am happy and very well aware of the burden placed upon me in terms of the expectations of the population in general and of members of the community in particular."
In addition to Gaday, two additional milestones were reached for the Council for Higher Education - after Professor Fadia Nasser from the School of Education at Tel Aviv University became the first Arab appointed to the Council, while Professor Ortzion Bartana was the first to be appointed from the Ariel University Center.
There are 21 members of the Council for Higher Education, including representatives from universities, colleges, students, and public representatives. Their main responsibilities are to give permission to open institutions of higher education, authorize institutions to award academic degrees, present recommendations to the government for developing higher education, as well as recommend government funding for higher education in accordance with social needs.