What May Change in the Next Round of Budget Cuts?
Yeshiva University runs two of each undergraduate academic department between Yeshiva College and Stern College. This redundancy allows departments to synthesize with the specific requirements of each campus, such as the extended morning program for men. A unification of departments, such as the one Sy Syms School of Business recently completed for many of its departments, would cut back on costs associated with registration, academic chairs, and programming. However, departmental politics and the introduction of new interdisciplinary curriculum on the YC campus may complicate a merger. YU may also unite other non-academic departments that are currently split between multiple campuses.
Increasing Class Sizes:
On average, liberal arts colleges enjoy one faculty member per every 11.7 undergraduate students, according to U.S. News and Special Report. YU has a 1:6 faculty to student ratio. YC and SCW students cherish their small class sizes, but such luxuries may be curtailed in the face of the financial crisis. The Honors program may raise its upper limit of 14 students per class, while class numbers in First Year Writing seminars, which are usually cap at 15 students, may also rise. Consolidating classes would allow departments to trim adjunct and non-tenured faculty.
In his letter to faculty and alumni, President Joel said, “We must distribute financial aid more deliberately.” Between 2011 and 2012, YU’s allocation of scholarships dropped $7 million. Although YU will almost certainly honor scholarship contracts already established with students, it may be forced to reduce the number of need-based scholarships in the immediate future.
The Honors Program, the showpiece of YU’s undergraduate education, costs the university millions of dollars in merit-based scholarships every year. A sizable portion of the students in the program—130 joined last year—receive full tuition scholarships, regardless of financial need. For years, administrators discussed a restructuring of the mechanisms through which the Honors Program allocates scholarships. Given the urgency of this financial crisis, however, the Honors Program may be forced to make a much quicker decision. It may find itself unable to offer the brightest students in YU full scholarships. The Masmidim Program, designed to attract “budding Torah scholars” may also be curtailed.
Selling Real Estate:
According to ACRIS (Automated City Register Information System), a publically searchable record of property sales, deeds, mortgages, and transfers in the five boroughs, Yeshiva University owns hundreds of millions of dollars in real estate across New York City. Only a small portion of these deeds represent campus buildings; many are faculty or administrative apartments, office buildings, or properties. In fact, last year, YU sold three midtown office buildings for $114 million dollars, though the buildings were part of an estate bestowed to the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and money from the sale was allocated to biomedical research.
During the height of the recession, YU sold Schottenstein Theater on its Beren campus. “We have to look at any assets that, wonderful as they are, might be underused,” President Joel told SCW’s The Observer before the sale in 2011. During this next series of cuts, Yeshiva University will likely liquidate a number of its real estate assets to quickly raise capital.
Programs that May Be Cut Significantly:
The Presidential Fellowship, established in 2004 by President Joel and Vice President Josh Joseph, is now celebrating its 10th, and perhaps final year. Many have speculated that the program, which places over a dozen YU graduates in administrative positions across the university, will suffer a drastic decrease in the number of students in can accommodate. Student leaders and other seniors interested in the program have expressed concern that the program, which many plan to apply for, may not exist next year.
The admissions department at Yeshiva has seen a marked increase in staff in the last four years. YU’s renewed emphasis on enrollment saw notable improvement. However, staff redundancies between YC and SCW may be scrutinized, forcing layoffs. YU Open Houses, twice-annual events, cost YU tens of thousands of dollars to plan and execute. Although Model United Nations breaks-even on hotel and organizational costs, planning the three day event requires full time admissions employees that cost the university upwards of $150,000. Other admissions related events, such as the Wittenberg Wresting Tournament, may also be truncated or cut.
Tenure-Track Faculty Positions:
According to the Dean’s Office, Yeshiva College desperately needs professors in History, Political Science, and Sociology departments. Students and faculty members enthusiastically support searches for these new professors. However, deep financial cuts will likely freeze tenure-track positions, to the long-term detriment of these weaker departments.
Center for the Jewish Future:
Many deans and faculty members see little benefit for the overall cost of the Center for the Jewish Future. Although they do receive outside funding, many positions within the CFJ may be trimmed, especially after decreasing the number of student service missions in the last three years.
YU cut health and wellness classes in 2011 in an effort to save money and streamline the curriculum. Funding for sports teams may be next.
RIETS introduced a costly program that matches current YU students with prospective YU students from the Yeshiva they attended in Israel. The YU representative, or “madrich,” is flown in Israel to “facilitate the transition of incoming students to YU.” The cost of the program runs into the tens of thousands of dollars.
Each shiur in YU is allotted a few thousand dollars a year for programming. With over thirty different shiurim, the cost of these funds quickly adds up to tens of thousands of dollars.
Programs that may be added:
In his letter, President Joel floated the possibility of investing in online courses as a means to increase revenue. YU has yet to fully tap into the potentially lucrative MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) market, although Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration has opened a 36 credit online Master’s program. The promise of increased revenue from these courses, however, is hardly guaranteed.
Coursera, one of the most prolific MOOC platforms, has only now begun to reap the financial benefits of its investment after years of building up market recognition through free courses offered to hundreds of thousands of students. Yeshiva University, however, will arrive late in the game. Other universities with far greater name recognition—Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Duke and Georgia Tech—have successfully joined an already crowded market.
YU could capitalize within the niche Jewish market, however, the pool of potential students—and revenue—are obviously limited in scope. The only possible income stream would be to license online courses to Jewish day schools that are increasingly looking to computer-based learning to cut costs.
President Joel also mentioned opening up more graduate schools and graduate course offerings to “generate needed revenue.” Master’s Degree Programs can be “cash cows” for universities because they capitalize on existing faculty members and support staff while charging high tuition. Master’s degrees, the fastest growing degree in the United States, have now become entry-level degrees in many careers. Yeshiva University has begun to capitalize on this new trend by establishing an Executive Master’s in Business Administration program at the Sy Syms School of Business. YU will likely add other MAs as part of an effort to fund doctoral students and raise capital for departments.
However, the president did not mention any changes in RIETS, perhaps the costliest program run by the university. Unlike Wurzweiler (Social Work), Ferkauf (Psychology), Einstein, and Cardozo, RIETs does not bring any revenue to the university. According to YU’s most recent Consolidated Financial Statements report, “Manhattan Campuses subsidized the operating deficits of RIETS.” These facts aren’t surprising given that all students enrolled in RIETS receive a scholarship that covers $7,375 per semester of tuition, and only pay a negligible registration and activities fee (and many don’t even pay that). Although this would likely cause great protest, YU may force students in RIETS to establish other sources of scholarship, pay extra, or work in YU alongside their course of study.