As guests entered the banquet hall, a large screen projected iconic images of Ann Arbor—the Matthaei Botanical Gardens, Nichols Arboretum, Kerrytown, and of course, the Big House. The display brought Ann Arbor to life for guests who had not been back in Ann Arbor for quite some time, as well as for those who had been there in the last few months.
All U of M alumni in Israel (a growing community of over 200) were invited to the Dan Hotel Tel Aviv, which overlooks the Mediterranean, its lovely beaches, and a lively seafront promenade.
Generations of graduates were in attendance: a man who graduated in the 1960s, a group of young people who graduated a few years ago, and a woman who graduated just this past year. The attendees represented numerous undergraduate and graduate level programs and came from all over Israel to be there.
The U-M SPH faculty and guests mingled with one another, discussing their favorite memories of Ann Arbor, the degrees they had earned at the U, and how they have used those degrees in Israel.
I asked people if they enjoyed the time they spent living in Ann Arbor and studying at the University of Michigan. They expressed how much their University of Michigan experiences meant to them and how much they relished their time as students there. I cannot say I was surprised, but it was nice to hear.
It was so special to reconnect with this small, but dedicated University of Michigan alumni base in Israel. I know of no other university with alumni who are so eager to stay connected, and certainly of no other university that offers so many ways to keep its alumni involved from all over the world.
Before the evening concluded, School of Public Health Dean, Martin Philbert spoke to the audience about the state of the University, some of its new and notable accomplishments, and about our existing and nascent academic relationships in Israel and around the globe. Dean Philbert also shared a personal story about one of his mentors who was Israeli, and how this trip to Israel was especially meaningful to him because of their long-lasting relationship. At the end of his remarks, he said that everyone was welcome back to their second home, Ann Arbor. And, finally, using what are arguably the most important two words in any language, he said in polished Hebrew, “Kadima Kachol!” (Go Blue!)