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UM Professor Uses Israel Fellowship to Sharpen Insights for Students

By Edwin B. Smith

University of Mississippi

University of Mississippi professor Joseph Holland treks across the Negev Desert in southern Israel. Submitted photo

A University of Mississippi professor spent part of his summer getting to know the ins and outs of Israeli politics and culture.

Joseph “Jody” Holland, associate professor of public policy leadership, was among 33 U.S. professors and researchers who traveled to Israel as part of the Jewish National Fund’s Faculty Fellowship Program.

“I wanted to get a better understanding of the political and cultural context of the nation,” Holland said. “Israel has such an important role in geopolitics, and having an opportunity to develop a deeper knowledge of the multi-dimensional aspects of the country helped frame my thinking as well as the way I can present information to my students.”

The group met with Israeli professors to develop collaborative research and exchange programs. Meeting and sharing ideas from faculty all over the world was “priceless,” Holland said.

Another highlight was meeting former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

“Listening to his insights, which included his mistakes, was a powerful moment,” Holland said. “I was able to observe a leader who has lived a prominent life, and now is able to reflect on his successes and failures.”

Holland said this experience is already proving beneficial to his work at Ole Miss. In fact, he is coordinating a trip with students for next spring.

“I love the multi-dimensions of Israel, and I know so many students can learn from the history, politics, economy and culture of the nation,” he said. “Also, I am working on building a research project there focusing on examining leadership profiles.

“These activities will continue to build an internationalized presence for Ole Miss in Israel,” Holland said.

Holland brings many strengths to the department and its students, said Weixing “Mark” Chen, chair and professor of public policy leadership.

“Dr. Holland is an excellent teacher with many valuable life experiences, which he shares with his students,” Chen said. “His tour of Israel and the connections he made while there can only enhance what he is already doing here as a professor and a researcher.”

Hundreds of U.S. faculty have taken part in the annual summer Faculty Fellowship Program since its inception. Among the schools represented in this trip were Auburn University, University of Georgia and the University of Wisconsin.

“This is a truly transformative program and I will forever cherish the people I met and the moments I experienced in Israel,” Holland said.

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