Brigham Young University students studying in Israel were able to move from their former lodging at Kibbutz Ramat Rachel March 8 to new quarters at BYU’s Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies. The center is still under construction on Mt. Scopus, but the dormitory levels have been completed and the necessary occupancy permits have been obtained.
Dr. David B. Galbraith, director of the center, said that he expects construction to be complete by September of this year. Representatives of the center were working with Israeli government representatives to negotiate the text of a commitment that the university had earlier made to refrain from any missionary activities in Israel.
Although the center had initially been a subject of controversy among some groups in Israel, there was no opposition when the eighty-one BYU students became the first student group to occupy the new building. “Few newspapers picked up the news release relating to the move,” said Robert C. Taylor, assistant to the president of BYU for the Jerusalem Center and BYU director of Travel Study.
The lower four levels of the building that are now complete include classrooms and a library, as well as student housing. Students are taking their meals at a nearby hotel until the center’s dining area is ready for use.
The center, which is expected to be in full operation by fall semester, will have the capacity to house 160 students, with additional quarters for faculty.
Most of the students using the new facility will be those studying under the Study Abroad program, although BYU Travel Study groups will also use the center.
The university has conducted Near Eastern study projects in Israel for the past seventeen years. Construction of the new Jerusalem Center began in 1984.