Dear Friends,

I am particularly happy to bring you the current newsletter of the Leon Recanati Center for Maritime Studies. I hope that the rather large gap between the previous issue and the present one will be compensated by this special double edition, which focuses on the Graduate Department of Maritime Civilizations. The Leon Recanti Center for Maritime Studies and the Department of Maritime Civilizations have undergone substantial alterations and are the focus of many new plans. Ehud Spanier, a marine biologist and ecologist now stands at the helm, having succeeded Yossi Mart, a marine geologist, as the academic director of the CMS and the chairman of the Department.

The facilities of the CMS are also undergoing drastic change. The center has been granted a large amount of additional space, which is currently being renovated. This will ultimately contain administrative and research areas, facilities for visiting scholars and graduate students, seminar rooms, classrooms and numerous laboratories. Special features will include wet laboratories; dry laboratories for microscopy, video and still computerized analysis; a drafting room; a geomorphology laboratory and a laboratory for restoration. The offices of the graduate department will be moved to this new location, meaning that for the first time all the maritime units of the University of Haifa will be concentrated in one spot. Faculty, students and staff will be able to enjoy a special atmosphere of marine science in action.

This huge improvement in the infrastructure of our maritime units has been made possible by a generous donation from Maurice and Irene Hatter of London, long time friends and supporters of maritime studies in Haifa, and from the Rothschild Foundation. The active encouragement of the president of the University Yehuda Hayuth and the vice-president for public relations Yael Metzer have been crucial in achieving this important goal. As mentioned, the present issue of the CMS newsletter is devoted to the Graduate Department of Maritime Civilizations, the teaching arm of maritime studies at the University of Haifa. It outlines the multi- and interdisciplinary program of graduate studies, which involves a unique combination of subjects relating to humankind and the sea, including maritime history, marine and coastal archaeology, marine geology, coastal geomorphology, and marine biology and ecology.

The majority of the members of faculty of the graduate department are also research scientists at the CMS. Selected topics of their ongoing research are presented in this newsletter. We aim to illustrate the productive nature of our interdisciplinary approach by presenting abstracts of research theses belonging to some of our recent graduates. Producing the next generation of outstanding marine researchers is of the highest priority to us. Four years ago the Maurice Hatter Endowment Fund was established, enabling the presentation of five or more fellowships each year to outstanding students, subsequent to the approval of the research plans for their theses. Twenty-four graduate students studying for their MA or Ph.D. degrees, or working on postdoctoral research, have been awarded these fellowships since 1995 (Fig. 1).

As it is equally important to encourage graduate students at the outset of their studies, we have initiated a campaign to obtain fellowships for promising new graduate students. This will free the successful applicants for full time study and research within the vast array of subjects dealing with human-maritime interaction. The importance of the sea and shore to the State of Israel and the struggle over exploitation or preservation of the country's natural and cultural resources will only increase in the 21st century. As more complex interdisciplinary problems arise, skilled academic personnel trained to advanced levels will become indispensable. In-depth study of the often hostile marine environment requires total devotion for a minimum of three to four years. These fellowships are intended to attract outstanding candidates from Israel and abroad to our unique graduate program. On the subject of devotion, I would like to acknowledge the passing of two very dear friends and long term supporters of marine research at the CMS - Mr. Ya'acov Recanati and Baron Edmond de Rothschild. We mourn the passing of these two men of vision, and hope that the expansion and development of maritime facilities, teaching and research at the University of Haifa will be suitable monuments to the legacies that they have left with us.

Ehud Spanier

Fig. 1 Eli Hadad addressing Maurice and Irene Hatter on behalf of the fellowship recipients (Photo: A. Baltinester)

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