By: Shmuel Cahn  | 

New Year, New Faces; Nissel, Leibowitz Assume Student Services Posts (Vol. 64, Issue 2)

After 37 dedicated years as Director of the Main Center Residence Halls, Rabbi Joshua Cheifetz has stepped aside to assume the new position of Coordinator of Guidance and Student Life. Replacing him as Student Services Director of Housing and Psychological Services is Dr. Chaim Nissel.  Also departing from the Student Services staff is Rabbi Adam Miller. Miller has been replaced by Mr. Andrew Leibowitz, the new Coordinator of Student Services for Undergraduate Men. 

Nissel, who has taken over the administrative functions of the residence halls, received his Psy.D. in School and Clinical Psychology from New York's Pace University earlier this year. Previously, he attended SUNY Purchase while learning at Yeshivat Sha'arei Torah In Monsey. 

Prior to assuming his current position, Nissel was the MTA school psychologist and supervisor of its dormitory, Strenger Hall. In explaining why Nissel was chosen for this post, Dean of Students Dr. Efrem Nulman said, "He took a dorm not running well and improved it significantly.” Additionally, having already been on campus for two years prior to assuming this position was a positive factor, as Nissel is no longer a newcomer to the Yeshiva University community.

Among Nissel's goals for his new job is to expand the psychological services within YU as a means of promoting the overall well being of the student population. One of his main accomplishments at MTA was, in his words, "Providing a safe, nurturing, and supervised environment for the students.” Although conceding that his new post does have greater responsibility, as administrator for all of the university housing on this campus, Nissel feels confident in his ability to meet the challenge. As Nulman stressed, "He's a darn good administrator, and gets along very well with the student body.” 

Among the challenges of administering the university housing is its ever increasing population. For this year, the total YC and RIETS residence hall population has grown to approximately 960 students, up 6.7% from last year. Among these students are 120 who will be living in the apartments of the lndependent Housing Program. Although originally given a lukewarm reception, Nissel judges the IHP to be a success since 60 returning students specifically requested to be placed in the apartments. 

Long a fixture on campus, Rabbi Cheifetz has been running the residence halls since 1961. A graduate of Yeshiva College, The Wurzweller School of Social Work, and a musmakh of RIETS, he has been instrumental in “being able to read the pulse of the student body,” said Nulman, “for which the administration is grateful.” In his new position, Cheifetz will continue to coordinate special programs, such as the successful Shabbat Enhancement Program and the acclaimed Dorm Talks series. He will also be maintaining his apartment in Rubin Hall.

Cheifetz declined to discuss his experiences in managing the dormitories for nearly four decades, calling it premature. “I’m not feeling nostalgic right now," he said, pointing out that he will continue on in his new position for at least a year. Additionally, he will be available to assist Nissel in adapting to his new responsibilities, since in the words of Dr. Nissel,“I have a very good relationship with Rabbi Cheifetz.”

Also joining the Student Services staff is Mr. Andrew Leibowitz. A recent graduate of Yeshiva College, Leibowitz received his M.Ed. in school psychology from Long Island University. Before returning to YU, Leibowitz was a teacher and psychologist at The Salanter Academy of Riverdale, and he continues to be the Youth Director at Manhattan's Congregation Ohab Zedek. He has replaced Rabbi Adam Miller, who is pursuing his doctorate at YU's Ferkauf Graduate School.

Leibowitz was recruited by Nulman because he was held in high regard at SAR by both the students and the parents. His appointment is part of what some see as a new strategy by the Office of Student Services to be more in touch with the student body, Nulman sees as one of Leibowitz’s main assets his desire to be, “very much out there,” attending events and interacting with the students, not just residing behind a Furst Hall desk.

Among his goals for improving Student Services is being very visible by being out and about among the student body, and through that getting to know students on a personal level, and thus, “Letting them know that I care.” Leibowitz stressed that the Office of Student Services exists not just to coordinate with student leaders, but also to assist students in dealing with teachers, administration, and personal problems, Along these lines, he said that he wanted, “To let the students know that there is a place to turn to.” Although this seems like a tall, order, considering a student body of over 1100, Leibowitz feels excited by the possibilities, stating that, “I love challenges.”