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. Continue reading

My Empathy Questions for Richard Joel

YU Pres. Richard Joel &  Pres. Emeritus Norman Lamm

YU Pres. Richard Joel &
Pres. Emeritus Norman Lamm

From the Frum Follies archives 9/3/13. Still pertinent.

Richard Joel, imagine the principal of one of your high schools was pressing ham sandwiches against the lips of many students. Would you say the incident should be ignored to protect the reputation of this principal who was clearly suffering from some mental illness? If you fired him or her, would it be OK with you if some other synagogue or orthodox school hired them?

Richard Joel, imagine several physicians in the Albert Einstein medical system systematically and maliciously botched dozens of critical operations over several decades which left their patients permanently disabled. Furthermore, imagine dozens of past and current staff, supervisors and administrators violated their ethical code and looked the other way instead of forcing immediate corrective action. Would you be content to announce, “Henceforth we will behave well but we should avoid talking about what happened?”

Richard Joel, imagine your grandchild was seriously disabled for life because of someone else’s reckless negligence. Imagine the offender could avoid paying a single penny because of some legal loophole. Would the lawyer in you admire the opposing attorney or would you rage against the injustice? Imagine the offending party was a worthwhile not-for-profit institution which claimed paying the settlement would force it to trim back its program budget by one percent. Would that change your reaction? Would your reaction depend on the percent of the budget that was affected? At what percentage would you forgive them for their recalcitrance?

Richard Joel, Continue reading

Is Richard Joel Incompetent or Just Covering Up?

By now the world knows that Yeshiva University (YU) hired a convicted child molester, Akiva Roth, as a Hebrew instructor. This was rank incompetence and a PR disaster. This comes on top of YU’s failure to keep their promise to produce an open report about the sex abuse in their HS by George Finkelstein, Macy Gordon and Richard (Ricky) Andron. Instead the report dwelled on their terrific new policies from preventing this from happening again.

It took them four days to announce Akiva Roth’s resignation. That is way too long for an institution in the limelight for sex abuse.  Their belated press release states:

After an extensive review of this matter, Mr. Roth is no longer employed by the University. To our knowledge, he has not engaged in any inappropriate conduct during his time at YU. While all appointments are subject to thorough background checks, the University erred in this case, permitting the new hire to begin teaching before the screening process had been completed. Yeshiva University will continue to re-evaluate its hiring processes and work to close any gaps in our procedure.

YU President Richard Joel was hired for his administrative and fund-raising skills. But he is also screwing that up. On September 9th, Moody’s downgraded YU’s bonds. The Forward’s reporting of the downgrade focused on the ongoing sex abuse litigation. However there was a lot more to it. Their summary states:

Moody’s Investors Service has downgraded Yeshiva University’s rating to Baa2 from Baa1 and kept the rating on review for downgrade. The rating action reflects the university’s weak liquidity with a full draw on operating lines of credit, expected covenant breach on lines of credit Continue reading

It Is Time to Fire Richard Joel

What in the world is the matter with YU. They issued a report with no content about its history of abuse, blaming it all on their lawyers. Penn State consulted with lawyers and issued a report detailing many damning and embarrassing details about their handling of abuse by Jerry Sandusky. But of course, Penn State also fired football coach Joe Paterno and their president. They were determined to put the scandal behind them by addressing it  head on and by entering into serious negotiations to settle claims by individual victims of Sandusky.

But then Penn State has an independent board of trustees. YU should also settle and fire President Richard Joel, but it seems he controls the board. So he produced his absurd report which was all about how they are now better and padded it with their texts of their policies.

Now we know that still haven’t gotten it together. They hired Akiva Roth as an instructor of Hebrew for their Yeshiva College undergraduates in spite of his history of serious sex abuse violations. News of the hire came out yesterday. A competent organization wouldn’t have made the mistake. A competent organization, if it did goof Continue reading

It Was Arrogant of YU to Misrepresent Lamm’s Mental Competence

YU Pres. Richard Joel &  Pres. Emeritus Norman Lamm

YU Pres. Richard Joel &
Pres. Emeritus Norman Lamm

Back in July, (along with Shmarya Rosenberg) I reported that Rabbi Norman Lamm suffered from serious dementia. This has now been confirmed according to the NY Post.

After administering a battery of tests conducted over a period of nearly five hours, Dr. Caccopolo determined [in her written report] that ‘the pattern of Dr. Lamm’s cognitive impairment impedes his ability to independently comprehend and adequately respond to questions posed to him, as well to reliably retrieve and report past information.

I hate belaboring this point, but we are dealing with severe mental incompetence. An ordinary janitor is fit for court testimony but is lucky to earn more than $25,000 a year. Yet YU retained Rabbi Lamm as Chancellor and Rosh Yeshiva and paid him over $500,000 a year. These sort of salaries are shocking to most people but we are told that this is the market rate for exceptional talent. So how the hell could YU retain Rabbi Lamm in that position when he was no longer able to function in a court room at the level of an ordinary janitor?

YU is extremely arrogant. It disregarded its fiduciary responsibility Continue reading