Photo Credit: Maxine Dovere
YU President Richard Joel (L) with past President Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm.

Published on Jewish Business News

by Ilan Shavit

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Dr. Henry Kressel, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Yeshiva University, sent out an email statement in reaction to a faculty “no confidence” vote Friday against President Richard Joel.

Kressel’s message said, in no uncertain terms: “The Board is confident that President Joel and his administration will continue to work diligently to strengthen the bonds of collaboration and maintain the focus on the needs of our students, as well as the needs of the University as a whole. This is the best way to ensure YU continues to flourish.”

A full 80 percent of participating faculty members of Yeshiva College (YC) at Yeshiva University last Friday afternoon voted “No Confidence” in Joel. Only 3 percent voted “confidence,” with 17 percent abstaining. 64 percent of the faculty voted.

Despite the fact that the no-confidence vote does not carry immediate ramifications, Professor Gillian Steinberg, an associate professor of English at YC and member of the YC executive committee, told the Jewish Week that this unusual gesture would likely “signal donors in a meaningful way” and “indicate that the board of trustees is moving in the wrong direction.”

“It’s the time of year when we put the schedule together, and we realized we were paralyzed because we didn’t know which faculty would be around,” Steinberg explained. “The administration won’t tell us who will get a contract renewal. Now, the rubber hits the road.”

The Jewish Week also reported that the faculty of Albert Einstein School of Medicine, also affiliated with YU, took a vote of no confidence in the YU board on Jan. 23.

Dr Kressel responded with an email message Sunday night, stating that the near-unanimous “no confidence” vote “is an unfortunate development, given the Administration’s work and many meetings with the faculty to develop plans to enhance the quality of the educational experience at YU while saving costs.”

Kressel explained that “while it’s regrettable that a small number of contract faculty will leave the University, we are building an organization and an academic program that creates more flexibility and options for students. Details will be shared soon on ways more of our students can enjoy and benefit from our outstanding scholars, and how smaller programs can be strengthened.”

Having said that, Kressel stated clearly that he basically won’t have any of that nonsense, because “the Board of Trustees is ultimately responsible for ensuring the University is able to move forward with excellence. This responsibility includes implementing a financial plan to ensure the sustainability of the institution.”

He continued, even more specifically: “Under our direction, President Richard Joel, his administration and the Board’s outside advisers, Alvarez & Marsal (A&M), have identified areas across the entire university to streamline and realign operations, while ensuring the student experience remains vibrant. They have performed admirably in a difficult environment.”

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9 COMMENTS

  1. When did college decisions be made by a vote of the faculty. As if they know all the ins and outs of running an institution (moribund before President Joel!) like Yeshiva University. Of course mistakes have been made, but at whivh institution has everything been flawless?

  2. Driving to teach Public Speaking at Yeshiva College I received a call stating that the speech department is closing at YU. I was the first speech major at Yeshiva College in 1969 and together with Dr. Abraham Tauber of Blessed memory created the first speech department at Yeshiva College. I have taught at Yeshiva College in the 70's, 80's and in the last 4 years. What is not working at Yeshiva College? Why is enrollment down? Why are students unhappy and leaving? According to my observations, shiurim are too large and Rebbes are unable to develop close relationships with students. How much do the administrators and officers make? You would be astonished. Why fire talented adjuncts while keeping full teachers who are not evaluated and cannot teach? Consider the YU nepotism which gives untalented people jobs. There seem to be a lot of people running around doing nothing and getting paid. The cafeteria food is terrible and costs too much. Students are overworked with religious requirements which make it impossible to devote enough time to secular work. This has to be reevaluated. Finally, where is the YU spirit of Torah Umada? Where is our pride? We are not Harvard, Yale, or Columbia. Let us be YU. A college without art, music, speech, drama, is not even an advanced high school. Rabbi DR. Bernhard Rosenberg

  3. Bamidbar 16 :15
    טווַיִּחַר לְמשֶׁה מְאֹד וַיֹּאמֶר אֶל יְהֹוָה אַל תֵּפֶן אֶל מִנְחָתָם לֹא חֲמוֹר אֶחָד מֵהֶם נָשָׂאתִי וְלֹא הֲרֵעֹתִי אֶת אַחַד מֵהֶם:
    15Moses was exceedingly distressed, and he said to the Lord, "Do not accept their offering. I have not taken a donkey from a single one of them, and I have not harmed a single one of them."

    moshe rabbeinu wouldn't be earning a million dollars a year while professors were losing their pensions

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