Roadmap for Sustainable Excellence

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