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University President Builds Negev Desert School Into Powerhouse

Rivka Carmi says her penchant for short skirts almost torpedoed her chance to become the first woman dean of an Israeli medical faculty. Now she’s the country’s first and only female university president.

The pediatric geneticist’s next goal is to turn Ben-Gurion University of the Negev into an internationally recognized research institution and a leader in cybersecurity work. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who sees Israel as a center for technology and expertise to defend against digital attacks, is lending a hand: His cabinet this month approved moving military bases into the 4,700-square-mile desert region that the college, named for Israel’s first prime minister, calls home.