Good Riddance, YU President Richard Joel; Why wait to 2018?

YU Pres. Richard Joel & Pres. Emeritus Norman Lamm

Richard Joel (L)

Richard Joel, Yeshiva University (YU) president for the last 13 years, just announced his resignation in an email to the entire YU community (full text below). The email does not specify the effective date but states that he is asking the board to form a search committee for a successor. It would be nice if he had specified an effective date.

His announcement was timed to coincide with YU’s losing control of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine (due in part to mismanagement and to Joel’s managing to lose $1.3 billion). Fixing YU will depend on getting rid of the board that enabled Joel and was in some cases profiting from the problematic investments.

money loss drawingThe resignation announcement by Joel makes things sound hunky dory, ignores the sex abuse scandal and the unfulfilled promise to report on the in-house cover-up. He has never shown true empathy for the victims of abuse by HS principal George Finkelstein and others. Instead, Joel gave prominent appointments to Rabbi Kenneth Brander (who harbored abuser Richard Andron), and Dr. David Pelcovitz, who misstated facts in an attempt to shorten the sentence of convicted child molesting yeshiva teacher, Evan Zauder (see letter below).

Rabbi Kenneth Brander

Rabbi Kenneth Brander

Good riddance Richard Joel, but not soon enough and it is not just you that has to go. The self-perpetuating board will probably select a successor who will not delve into board misconduct. YU needs a new board to then select a new president. Sadly, that is not likely.


From: President Richard M. Joel <>
Date: Thu, Sep 10, 2015 at 4:45 AM
Subject: New Beginnings
Dear Members of the Yeshiva University Community,

I want to share with you remarks I made to the Yeshiva University Board of Trustees yesterday evening.

Dr. David Pelcovitz  (Prof of Education & Psychology, YU)

Dr. David Pelcovitz
(Prof of Education & Psychology, YU)

It’s been a tremendously productive summer, culminating a period of two years of intense research, activity and motion moving us forward with excellence. Previously, you’ve received communications about our restructuring – with wonderful guidance from our advisors at Alvarez & Marsal, Attain and others; inspired leadership of our trustees and vice presidents across the teams, and proactive problem solving from faculty and administrators throughout both the Yeshiva and the University. We have just launched a Strategic Planning and Restructuring Implementation Team to carry the restructuring forward. Now we are moving from restructuring to an academic and operational turnaround.

Today I can announce that we just completed the formation of a joint venture between Yeshiva University and the Montefiore Health System for the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, making this groundbreaking medical school an affiliate of both institutions. Montefiore assumes operational and financial responsibility at Einstein while YU’s commitment to medical education continues through our academic oversight, granting of medical degrees, supervision of Jewish traditions, and the preservation of the special relationship with YU and its students. This landmark agreement represents a major turning point and strengthens the foundation from which we can build on the unique mission and educational experience at Yeshiva, and continue implementing new programs and initiatives to broaden and deepen our reach. Please click here to learn more.

There are many other important developments, too, and I want to highlight a few here:

  • I am thrilled to announce that Mordecai and Dr. Monique Katz have given us an additional $15 million, raising their prior gift for the current Capital Campaign to $25 million.
  • With their help, we will be launching a new School of General Studies and Continuing Education, which will serve as a platform for a series of new degree programs and certificate programs, and will serve as host to YU Global.
  • Our classes have begun, and student and faculty are enjoying a wonderful fall.
  • We launched 10 online classes in our summer school. We continue to build blended and online courses, are offering a wonderful online Masters of Jewish Education, and will offer an online Masters in Marketing.
  • We have received an anonymous $1 million gift to serve as a challenge gift for increases in the Annual Fund campaign.
  • Net undergraduate tuition revenue has increased nearly $6 million in two years.
  • We are shortly signing an agreement to outsource housekeeping, maintenance and plant operations to Aramark.
  • We are working on outsourcing technology across the university to streamline operations and drive data-based decision making.
  • We are centralizing our communications team and university-wide events implementation.
  • Renovation of the Gottesman Library will be completed by November.
  • Construction begins on the Pedestrian Plaza on 185th Street in November, thanks to the city and state.
  • Our high schools are growing and succeeding year by year.

There’s so much more, some of which I can’t share with you in words – you have to feel it to believe it. I recently spent a few hours with Rabbi Charlop in the largest batei midrash (study halls) on the Wilf Campus, wishing each student a good New Year. I cannot describe the inspiration of seeing these extraordinary young people.

I just celebrated my 65th birthday. I am well into my 13th year of the presidency and the 28th year of leading Jewish educational institutions. When I accepted a third term as president, I informed our chair, Henry Kressel that it would be my last. As we now are poised to advance, I have asked chairman Moshael Straus to begin the process of transition and to identify and recruit my successor. This wonderful and committed lay leadership deserves to have the time to be deliberate in that process.

But there is no time for standing still. We have an urgent and dynamic agenda for this incredible and vital enterprise, and I enter the New Year confident that we will all, together, continue the process of building the right future for our children.

Best wishes for a Ktiva V’Chatima Tova, a happy and healthy new year.

Richard M. Joel
Bravmann Family University Professor

David Pelcovitz Zauder Letter p1David Pelcovitz Zauder Letter p2

One thought on “Good Riddance, YU President Richard Joel; Why wait to 2018?

  1. Thanks for flagging this! I had deleted the email without reading it, assuming it to be lots of blah, blah, blah – as the first five paragraphs are. Talk about burying the lead. There isn’t any explicit mention of when the third term began or how long it lasts for.

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