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Town Hall Meeting, March 24, 2011
Happy Spring, welcome. There are more seats in the front, for the bold andbrave. There is lots on the agenda, and the right way to do it is not to start withreports. Rather, they will come out over the course of the conversation.First Question (President Joel): I received a fine email today from a terrific SSSBstudent. He was concerned about things that he had heard. I will start byanswering that. Take a step back. Several years ago, the Chief Rabbi Sacks washere to speak to students, and to answer questions. My son Noam, was sitting inthe second row of the balcony. The CR responded to questions, but evaded aparticularly thorny question by answering a different one. A student remarked,“Boy he really Richard Joeled that answer.” I will be accused of this. I wish that Ican answer your questions simplisitically. I think that we are in this together, andI have too much respect for you, so I will answer nuanced questions withnuances. SSSB is alive and well, there is no executive board. The board of trustees didn’t even discuss SSSB. We are not closing it, it is getting stronger,and we are committed to build undergrad education, in every discipline.Business, law, medicine, Torah, world service.We are very committed to business education as part of an undergrad education,until the extent that people asked about this. We want to successfully completethe first and necessary accreditation process for business programs. We are inthe midst of this program and are committed to it. I am hopeful that in the not-far-off future, but in the relatively near future. Site visits are scheduled, etc. This ismoving forward and will continue to do so. Our vision is for you to achieve all youcan in key areas, including business.However, what people are tumultuous about is that we are making major changes in the structure and delivery of undergrad education at Yeshiva. It is notabout SSSB. We have been talking about this for two years already. Our undergrad education can not stand still. You deserve the best, and what does ittake to be an successful woman or man? In our case, it means an integratedTorah-secular education. Through the work of the Provost, we have realized thatwe are overstructured. There has been lots of consultation in the Meta way withStudent Affairs, etc. I believe that there should be one undergrad faculty atYeshiva, not a trifurcated one. The whole is less than the sum of its parts thisway, not more. There are years of hoary (HOARY) tradition that goes into thestatus of a faculty. We are small, and we can’t structure ourselves as if we arebig, because we end up as a small school with big bureaucracy. This will makeus stronger. Also, it is very necessary to take the wonder but unbelievableadministrative, bureaucratic structure, which is frustrating to all of us, because itis a maze. We need more centralization, academic seamlessness, one-stopshopping, career development. Professor Larry Schiffman was the first step inthis process. He is a person of extraordinary scope, understanding. We will nowwork together with the undergrad deans and administrative structure. We willunite before the beginning of next year, but not right away. We will begin nowmuch more targeted discussions, so that people can voice their concerns about
 
how the progress should go about. This does not come without some upheaval,and does not come fast. You have heard from me the commitments we have toeducation, none of which is to deliver a worse education. It is all about a moretextured, developed system for better ed.Alex Kushner (PhD, moving on): I am here serendipitously. Thank you for thetrajectory on which you put YU, with energy, etc.Raffi Holzer (YC senior): How do you forsee faculty unity between Wilf and Berencampus given their geographic disparity and daily schedules?PJ- Ya, those are the only two challenges (laughs). There are other schools thatwe are examining, that have similar models. We look at Fordham to see how thesynergy works. God invented vans and taxis, and flexible schedules. I think wehave to work on it; I don’t have the answer, but I know it’s not a game-stopper. Interms of the structures of the day, I think there is a core commitment to thestructures of both schools, but lots of reimagining. Once we get to the point of talking, there is progess. YC faculty has gone through a really exhaustiveprocess of curricular review. We can do it, I don’t have the answers.Jon Korman (SSSB Accounting): Last couple of years has been hard for accounting jobs. Firms don’t recruit here anymore ,and don’t like what we do. Willthe new structure help us at all?PJ- First of all, this is a really challenging economy, and the information I getsays you are doing well. I know this isn’t comforting if you don’t have a job. Also,the CDC has gone zero to sixty in a few seconds. We have had to account for NY changing its CPA rules, and I think we’re doing it real well, with integrity andethical sensitivies. My bosses, the board of trustees, demand that we focus onconnecting each student to the best of his reach, on what’s next. I hear thatemployers can tell at interviews whether the student has been to the CDC, and Ibelieve it. I tried to make a mandatory FTOC meeting at CDC this year. They’restill working on that. We have 2400 students on campus, this is one of our greatest strengths. I would love to have 4000, because Klal Yisrael needs it.Some public schools which are haughty, retail in a sellers market. We’re Jewishand custom, and people expect that its not just a university, it’s family.JK- Why do two out of the four accounting firms no longer recruit here?Mark Goldman: It’s not accurate. They did come to recruit on site. We had morehires for full summer internships this fall than last fall, and we hope that it willimprove with the economy. We are talking about the Masters Program. There is ajob fair on Friday April 1. If you’re not there, I will find you.Daniel Spector: The concern of the business students is that traditionally, there’sbeen a LA school and a business school. This is important because we haveessentially different curricula. Students are concerned that when two schools aremerged together, those requirements will be moved to the side and notconsidered. Employers will see us as having an incomplete business education.From a narrow university president point of view: Which graduates give more
 
money? Businessmen or Mehankhim? It is in our interest for you to do well, andgoing to an undergrad business school isn’t necessarily the best way. I likehistory, and I believe that we are required by God to learn history’s lessons tochart the best future. What it means to make you successful in each businessfield is different. How do we make this work? Some feel that a first-classeconomics and mathematics department is what a lot of employers look for, andwe have that here. I don’t think any of this makes your business training less.What’s motivating this is to make you succeed more and get better training. Realeducators need to look at what you need for your future. That’s why we’re in thisbusiness. Do you think I do it for the Agmas Nefesh? There used to be businesscourses in YC. We need to break down walls and ensure that we are looking atour possibilities.DS- Cornell has a completely different business section and curriculum for undergrads. Because of that separate core.PJ- I said that I want to have an accredited business program, and bring thingstogether properly. We want to break down the bureaucracy that you guyscomplain to me about.DS- Will the cores change for the business program?PJ- I have no idea. Definitely not next year.Dean Ginsberg- Our continued commitment to accreditation guarantees thatstudents will continue to follow a curriculum that meets their standards.PJ- We have never been accredited by them. We’re going some place better. Ipromise.Eitan Levine- Will there be a fee for off-campus housing? Will there be agrandfather clause for students currently off-campus?PJ- There is no IHP program next year. Also, we are changing our pricingstructures, housing will have a variable fee based on the dorm and situation. Weare increasing our fees for counseling, health, and ITS. There is a student feeacross the university. The meal plan will be remaining the same or slightlycheaper, but we are in final negotiations to ensure that a portion of the Caf Cardcan be used at establishments here and on Beren. We did this at Beren a fewyears ago in terms of dealing with the dormitories.Because of investments in the neighborhood, there has been a spread on off-campus housing. I’d prefer you stay in the dorms, but I will not prevent you andwill even help. Morg will become upper class, we are changing the electricalcircuitry (you can use your own AC, eventually we will have to deal with it), Rubinfor first year students (choice of 2 or 3 person rooms), Muss Hall at the samelower fee as Rubin. I hope more people go into the dorms, and I hope that over time we will keep making improvements in the style and substance of housing. Ilike that my kids were in the dorms, and I think that they had good experiencesthere.EL- Just to make sure, because you spoke a lot.PJ- There is no differential in fees between on and off campus.

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