Yeshiva University announced today that Dr. Selma Botman will serve as the University’s next vice president for academic affairs and provost, effective July 1. Botman joins YU from The City University of New York, where she served as executive vice chancellor for academic affairs and university provost and most recently as professor of Middle Eastern history at the Graduate Center. The appointment was unanimously approved by the YU Board of Trustees, acting on the recommendation of a search committee comprised of faculty, students, administrators and trustees.
In making the appointment, YU President Richard M. Joel said: “Attracting a higher education professional with the experience, the humanity, and the academic probity of Selma Botman is an achievement that reflects Yeshiva University’s stature as one of the nation’s leading universities. I believe that she will provide enormous academic leadership to the wonderful team that supports me as we work together to build a strong, sustainable Yeshiva University. Education is about tomorrow and Dr. Botman’s experience and commitment to quality and exploring different paths of learning will enable us to build an environment that supports the best educational practices of today and anticipates even greater innovation in the future.”
Botman was selected in a nationwide search led by a 10-member search advisory committee. Her responsibilities as vice president and provost will include overseeing YU’s academic programs, research, personnel and resources; working together with faculty and the administration to strengthen teaching and student learning, foster scholarly research and creative projects, and build a collaborative culture across the University; and reevaluating curricula and programs to ensure they remain compelling and challenging. She will also recruit and retain high-quality faculty and staff to YU and work closely with the University Faculty Council.
“I am honored to be entrusted by President Joel and the Board of Trustees with the leadership of Yeshiva’s faculty and academic affairs,” she said. “I look forward to working with the President and with the faculty and students to ensure that Yeshiva’s academic experience remains a vital and compelling choice for a new generation of students seeking a unique preparation for a lifetime of learning and thoughtful, ethical engagement with the world. We will find common ground in our devotion to knowledge and our aspiration to wisdom.”
A native of Chelsea, Massachusetts, Botman holds a degree in psychology from Brandeis University and philosophy from Oxford University, as well as a Master’s in Middle Eastern studies and a PhD in history and Middle Eastern studies from Harvard University. Botman’s academic expertise is in modern Middle Eastern history, politics and society. She is a well-known lecturer on current events in the Middle East and South Asia, as well as the author of three books and many scholarly articles in the field.
“Dr. Botman is a respected scholar and teacher and an experienced administrator,” said Dr. Matthew Goldstein, chancellor emeritus at CUNY. “Her high academic standards along with her warmth and compassion for others make her well-suited for the position of Provost at Yeshiva University.”
In addition to her positions at The City University of New York, Botman’s administrative roles have included appointments as special assistant to the chancellor of global education at the University of Maine System, president of the University of Southern Maine, senior adviser to the chancellor at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, and vice president for academic affairs and chief academic officer at the University of Massachusetts System.
In these positions, she initiated and coordinated several flagship programs, funding the development of a new STEM honors program and an advanced degree in nursing at USM as well as conceptualizing and launching a $30 million capital campaign to support scholarships, a performing arts center, and an innovation institute. At CUNY, her legacy includes the Campaign for Student Success, the Black Male Initiative, the Latino Faculty Initiative, and the Teacher Academy, a redesigned way to prepare math and science middle and high school teachers.
“Dr. Botman is a proven leader in higher education who combines a passion for learning and a commitment to excellence with the ability to get things done,” said Matthew Diller, dean of YU’s Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, who led the search committee. “She has the skill set to move an institution forward and her values reflect the mission of our great University. The search process included extensive involvement of faculty, students, trustees and administrators, and there was enthusiasm across the board for Dr. Botman’s candidacy.”
Dr. John Pierce Wise, Sr., professor of toxicology and molecular epidemiology at University of Southern Maine, praised the “deep sense of balance, fairness and commitment” that Botman brought to her time as president. “Never rushing to judgment or operating with a preconceived conclusion, she does her homework by consulting, listening and then firmly making decisions,” he said. “What I especially admire is her unalterable commitment to high standards and quality – which she never compromises.”
Dr. Elizabeth Nunez, distinguished professor of English at Hunter College, CUNY, recalled Botman’s “accessibility to faculty” during her tenure as University Provost there. “I found her to be highly supportive of faculty endeavors, enthusiastically seeking ways to advance faculty scholarship and teaching,” she said. “I very much admired her courage and integrity—she is a distinguished scholar, a woman of searing intelligence, sound moral values, and deep love and appreciation for human achievements.”
Botman will succeed Dr. Morton Lowengrub, who will complete 15 years of service at YU in June. “His legacy is profound,” said President Joel. “Dr. Botman is a worthy successor.”