Read President Richard M. Joel’s Vision For The Future of Yeshiva University

Dear Members of the Yeshiva University Community,

As we begin a new Jewish and academic year at Yeshiva University, we simultaneously embark on the next chapter in YU’s remarkable history. These are exciting times for this unique and wonderful university and I want to share with you our progress to date in assuring YU’s well-being, and our plans for the future. At its recent meeting, the University Board of Trustees endorsed a Roadmap for Sustainable Excellence that will guide us as we meet the challenges of 21st century higher education.

Our mission is not in question, but we must accomplish it within our means. We have confronted challenges that put pressure on the financial health of YU. In the simplest terms, over the past distressed economic times, we struggled to build the university we needed. We invested in our University, but as the economy turned we experienced operating deficits that cannot continue.

Change surrounds us. Young people learn differently than they did a generation ago. New views of the world, new technologies and modes of communication, the impact of social media, all change our students’ experience and how they learn. Twentieth century education does not embrace a twenty-first century world. To advance our mission requires that we use our resources wisely and focus our energies to retool how that mission is achieved. The challenge must be addressed in terms of the processes and content of education, the infrastructure needed and its costs, and the resources we have and must access. It is our mandate to ensure that Yeshiva University continues to thrive for generations to come. So, we embrace change and eagerly address all challenges as they arise. The Roadmap for Sustainable Excellence charts our course.

At the beginning of this calendar year, we retained Alvarez & Marsal (A&M), a leader in the field of restructuring and performance enhancement, as our financial advisor to guide the University in addressing its challenges and develop a long-term sustainable business plan. We welcomed Provost Dr. Selma Botman, Chief Financial Officer Jake Harman, and Chief Institutional Advancement Officer Seth Moskowitz, to join a first-class management team. We have worked on addressing operating deficits at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine as well as those across the University’s Manhattan campuses with a comprehensive set of restructuring initiatives, both for support services and academics.

By working with all our constituencies and focusing on the following three priorities, we have begun to stabilize the University.

1. Establishing a Sustainable Business Model

  • We embarked on a plan to improve our cash position.
  • We sold some of our non-core residential real estate at a time when the market was favorable.
  • We refinanced all of our outstanding short-term debt with long term financing that provides greater flexibility
  • We improved cash management, budgeting and financial controls.
  • We continue to focus on our investment operation and our endowment remains strong.

2. Advance Health and Medical Education

  • We signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Montefiore Health System which enhances and strengthens both organizations’ shared missions of research, teaching, patient care and community service and will ensure that Albert Einstein College of Medicine (Einstein) remains a leading medical school, and research enterprise, and we are now in the process of finalizing an agreement that builds on the existing contributions of  Montefiore to Einstein in the areas of research and teaching.  This new arrangement will allow Einstein to be fully operated by Montefiore and YU to continue as the degree granting entity with oversight of the educational and academic aspects of Einstein.
  • The agreement will significantly reduce YU’s operating deficit, while matching the extraordinary opportunities and challenges in the current research and healthcare environment
  • YU is launching a Master’s Program in speech pathology and audiology with Einstein and Montefiore.

3. Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century

  • We implemented over $20 million in savings across the corporate and academic divisions of the University for our current fiscal year through voluntary staff and faculty retirements, operational efficiencies and departmental consolidation.
  • We have identified significant additional operational savings, both corporate and academic, that must be implemented creatively and responsibly in collaboration with faculty and administration.
  • We convened three faculty task forces to explore and make recommendations on key areas of academic re-imagining and will partner with the faculty to facilitate more collaboration within and among our schools.
  • We continue to expand our blended course offerings in order to offer students more textured learning, flexibility in their schedules and the ability to learn at their own pace.
  • We will be working to bring class sizes in line with other top-tier universities and increasing student access to tenured faculty.
  • We will be significantly expanding our offerings of quality certificate and graduate programs to global audiences.
  • We continue to explore revenue opportunities consistent with our vision and are developing new academic and professional products to meet the emerging demands of a 21st century economy.

The implementation of the Roadmap will take place with all deliberate speed, and will result in both constancy and change, as we advance toward long-term sustainable excellence. We will continue to share developments with you even as we continue to share the remarkable achievements of this extraordinary university community. I look forward to speaking with our students, faculty, and staff at my upcoming town hall meetings and, after the holidays, we will set up meetings with internal and external constituencies to listen to your feedback and advance together.

With Rosh Hashana around the corner, I encourage you to partner and learn with us. A critical element of our future is the philanthropic partnership with alumni, investors and so many who believe that education must both ennoble and enable our students. As we look ahead to the new year and this next phase in Yeshiva University’s history, I turn to you—our alumni, our students, our faculty and staff, and our friends—and ask you for your partnership support. I ask that you embrace our future and join us on this journey.  Yeshiva University matters and will continue to matter, but we can only advance together with you.  I am confident that with your partnership, the future is bright.

Shana Tova,

Richard M. Joel
Bravmann Family University Professor
Yeshiva University

YU Benefactor Abe Naymark Leaves Lasting Legacy at Sy Syms School of Business

Abraham “Abe” Naymark was a self-made multimillionaire, but one would never know it. Low key and unpretentious until his passing last January at age 92, Naymark was also a shrewd businessman and a tough negotiator—traits that helped him achieve a small fortune in his lifetime. With this fortune, he has helped numerous students and faculty members at Sy Syms School of Business through the establishment of an eponymous scholarship fund and the Visiting Faculty and Research Fellowship Program. He gave a total of $2.25 million to YU while he was living as well as through gifts given from his estate posthumously.

Abraham Naymark

Abraham Naymark z”l

“Abe was the type of guy who wouldn’t spend $100 on himself but would gladly give a $1 million check to charity,” said Michael Strauss, associate dean of Sy Syms, who shared a close personal relationship with him. “He was a mentor to me, like a father figure, and a real mentsch with a truly unique personality.”

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Social Psychologist Jonathan Haidt Discusses the Moral Psychology of Political Polarization at Event Sponsored by Honors Program and Psychology Department

What is the most serious problem facing the United States today? According to Dr. Jonathan Haidt, Thomas Cooley Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University’s Stern School of Business, the answer is “hyper-partisanship,” the extreme, unprecedented polarization between Democrats and Republicans that Haidt says has been escalating since the 1980s and 1990s. Haidt considers this growing gap—between politicians and citizens alike—a “national crisis.”

NYU Professor Jonathan Haidt  speaks about how morality varies across cultures, religions and political groups at Belfer Hall on the WILF, men's campus on August 27,  2014. The lecture was a partnership between the Honors Program and the Psychology Department.

NYU Professor Jonathan Haidt speaks about how morality varies across cultures, religions and political groups.

Haidt, a leading researcher of moral psychology and how morality varies across cultures—including American liberals, conservatives and libertarians—spoke to a packed Wilf Campus lecture hall on September 16, at an event titled “The Moral Psychology of Political Polarization and Paralysis,” co-sponsored by the Yeshiva College Department of Psychology and the Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein Honors Program.

Hyper-partisanship, explained Haidt, the New York Times bestselling author of The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion, “turns politics into a zero-sum game: if the other side fails, you win.”

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Straus Center and Honors Program Event Provides Practical Comparison of American and Talmudic Law

Why do appellate courts exist? What role do fellow judges play in the decision-making process? What is the most difficult legal case you have ever decided?

These were all questions posed to both Judge Joseph Greenaway and Rabbi Yona Reiss at an engaging event hosted by Yeshiva University’s Zahava and Moshael Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought together with the Stern College for Women’s S. Daniel Abraham Honors Program to discuss their experiences in law and how the American and Talmudic systems approach legal circumstances.

Professor Adina Levine, Judge Joseph Greenaway, Rabbi Yona Reiss

Professor Adina Levine moderates the discussion between Judge Joseph Greenaway and Rabbi Yona Reiss

The panel discussion, moderated by Professor Adina Levine, who is instructing the Stern Honors course, “Comparative American and Talmudic Law”—sponsored by the Straus Center—touched on issues of enforceability, criminal justice systems, anti-trust laws, and the role of lawyers in the court. In dynamic conversation with each other and the audience, Greenaway and Rabbi Reiss discussed parts of the legal decision process as well as instances when both American and Talmudic law must be considered.

“I have found that it is very helpful for a dayan [Jewish law judge] to have a legal background,” said Rabbi Reiss

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YU High School for Girls Renames Program Dedicated in Memory of Joy Rochwarger Balsam z”l

Samuel H. Wang Yeshiva University High School for Girls (Central) recently dedicated their Israel guidance program in memory of Joy Rochwarger Balsam, a beloved teacher who touched the lives of hundreds of students in Israel and the United States. The program will now be known as the Joy Rochwarger Balsam Israel Guidance Program, thanks to funds donated by Joy’s family.

Joy Rochwarger Balsam z"l

Joy Rochwarger Balsam z”l

“Joy’s relationship with Central, her devotion to the State of Israel and contributions to Jewish education were remarkable,” said CB Neugroschl, head of school at Central. “Her cheerful disposition, tremendous faith, love of Israel and infectious devotion to learning lishma [for its own sake] inspired countless students, making it particularly appropriate that the Israel Guidance Program be dedicated in her memory. I know our students’ learning will continue to honor her memory.”

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Rabbis David Horowitz and Dovid Miller to Deliver Annual NYC – Jerusalem Kinus Teshuva Lectures on September 30

Rabbi Dr. David Horwitz and Rabbi Dovid Miller, Roshei Yeshiva at Yeshiva University-affiliated Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS), will be the featured speakers at the 30th Annual Hausman/Stern Kinus Teshuva Lectures. The lectures, given between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, will take place in New York City and Jerusalem on Tuesday, September 30, the seventh of Tishrei.

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Staff Recognized for Their Contributions and Dedication at Annual Human Resources Barbecue

On Wednesday, September 10, the Human Resources Department presented Staff Appreciation Day on Yeshiva University’s Wilf Campus. Hundreds of faculty and staff participated in the annual barbecue lunch that recognizes University employees for all of their contributions.

Employee Appreciation lunch at Wilf Campus

Appreciation Day for employees on the Israel Henry Beren Campus took place on Tuesday, September 9.

Yeshiva University Listed Among Best National Universities and Best Values in U.S. News Annual Rankings

Once again, Yeshiva University is listed among the very best institutions of higher learning, according to the U.S. News & World Report’s annual rankings released today. In this year’s ranking of nearly 1,600 four-year colleges and universities across the country, YU came in at 48 in the category of “Best National Universities.”

Yeshiva University ranked

Yeshiva University continues to rank among U.S. News & World Report’s Best National Universities.

Factors that account for YU’s top-tier ranking include high SAT scores, small class sizes, graduation and retention rate (40th), faculty resources (24th), and alumni giving rate (48th). Yeshiva also ranked 18th in the country for financial resources—the average spent per-student on instruction, research, student services and related educational expenditures.

“While no ranking captures the complexity of a university experience, particularly the rich Yeshiva University experience, nonetheless, this is well-deserved recognition and a tribute to a remarkable faculty whose dedication to students is evident through mentorship, collaborative research, and high-level instruction,” said Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Dr. Selma Botman.

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YU Scholars to Offer “Perspectives on Teshuva And The Yamim Noraim” Throughout September

Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future launched its Kollel Yom Rishon continuing adult education programming on Sunday, September 7, with lectures from Rabbi Meir Goldwicht, Joel and Maria Finkle Visiting Israeli Rosh Yeshiva at YU-affiliated Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS), and Mrs. Chaya Batya Neugroschl, head of school at YU High School for Girls. The lectures were the first offerings of a month-long series titled “Perspectives on Teshuvah and the Yamim Noraim.”

This special edition of the popular Abraham Arbesfeld Kollel Yom Rishon and Millie Arbesfeld Midreshet Yom Rishon Sunday Torah learning series will meet every Sunday in September at the Schottenstein Center, 560 West 185th Street in Manhattan, and will feature an all-star lineup of Torah scholars and rabbinic thinkers from throughout Yeshiva University.

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Interdisciplinary Seminar on Art History and Jewish Thought to be Offered at YU Museum in October 

Yeshiva University will present a Community Beit Midrash program at the Yeshiva University Museum in the fall. The Image and the Idea is a six-week interdisciplinary seminar on art history and Jewish thought taught collaboratively by Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik, director of the Zahava and Moshael Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought, and Dr. Jacob Wisse, director of the Yeshiva University Museum and associate professor of art history at Stern College for Women.

Model of the Beth Alpha Synagogue (early sixth century C.E.) Displaycraft, 1972, Collection of Yeshiva University Museum Endowed by Erica and Ludwig Jesselson

Model of the Beth Alpha Synagogue (early sixth century C.E.) Displaycraft, 1972, Collection of Yeshiva University Museum Endowed by Erica and Ludwig Jesselson

The course will explore the process through which art and artists use physical means to achieve spiritual or intangible ends and the ways that Judaism and Jewish sources deal with the tension between the physical and the spiritual and between the visual and the intellectual.

“The course offers a unique opportunity to explore the compatibility of and tension between traditional Jewish thought and traditional art and art history,” said Wisse. “We will address the ways that Judaism is sensitive and responsive to the power and character of art, and also the ways the greatest artists channel ideas that we associate with Jewish ways of thinking.

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September 2014
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