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Yeshiva University: Online Makeover

In his letter, President Joel wrote that the current fiscal crisis will force YU to “reframe the way we educate.” Joel noted, “conventional models crumble beneath the weight of fiscal hardship,” and discussed the need for a “new strategic vision” to increase revenue and efficiency in new graduate programs and online education.

This blog has followed, with disgust, Yeshiva University’s longtime irresponsibility in every imaginable institutional sense – hiring, trustee appointments, presidential compensation, intellectual freedom (put YESHIVA in my search engine for details). Now the Post-Bernard Madoff bill’s come due, and the only thing missing from the president’s statement is his acceptance of responsibility and his resignation.

“Yeshiva has suffered philanthropic walkouts,” writes the school paper, putting the matter diplomatically. Remember Andrew Sole’s letter, written all the way back in 2008, to Yeshiva? A letter the school blew off? Sole called for the resignation of the entire board of trustees.

… [H]arm has come to this distinguished University, both in financial loss and worse, in reputation. It is my view that the harm today is directly attributable to the failed performance of our trustees. As fiduciaries they lost sight of their primary mission, to safeguard the long-term interests of Yeshiva University. Whether their activities were merely negligent, or worse, that judgment is best left for others.

In my view it will take a generation to repair the damage inflicted upon Yeshiva. And that is very sad. But what would be even sadder, and which would also give grave concerns to Yeshiva’s many supporters, would be for the University to continue to allow the current Board of Trustees to serve as fiduciaries going forward.

The honorable course (and we have seen virtually no honorable behavior in American corporate boardrooms, nor in our public servants, in 2008) would be for the University’s President, and its legal counsel, Sullivan and Cromwell, to demand the immediate resignation of the entire Board of Trustees.

Fuck that! said Yeshiva. We like our boys (it’s almost all boys; they all seem to be in each others’ pockets; and one of them – Zygi Wilf – just got convicted of racketeering). We’ll just go our own way, and Sole can drop dead.

(This must have been one of the strategies featured in Leadership in the Non-Profit World, a class Yeshiva’s president gave just last January, with a guest lecture from the former president of George Washington University, a longtime defender of Yeshiva University’s way of doing things. Here’s President Trachtenberg. [You need to be a CHE subscriber to read the full contents of the article.])

But Yeshiva has dropped dead. Expect it to go almost entirely online, in the cheesiest, most desperate, way.

Margaret Soltan, November 21, 2013 11:43AM
Posted in: Online Makeover

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