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SYMS Deans Demonstrate Progress

In a March-13 email to students, the Office of the Provost announced the promotion of Dr. Moses Pava, Director of Syms School of Business, to the position of Dean of Syms School of Business, as well as the appointment of Drs. Avi Giloni and Michael Strauss to the positions of Associate Deans, marking a new era in the business school’s 15-year history.

In an interview with The Commentator, Dr. Pava described his vision for the business school and the steps he and his staff are taking to actualize that vision.

One of Dr. Pava’s main objectives is to foster a “student-centric” environment, a pursuit which begins with securing faculty members of the highest quality. “We can’t afford to have faculty here that are only good in one area, either research or teaching,” says Pava. “There has to be exceptional teaching in the classroom; that is a real big priority right now…” To this end, the administration has hired a new finance professor, Abraham Ravid, as well as Charles Harary, who is teaching a course entitled “Principles of Success.” Dr. Pava is also optimistic that President Joel will be teaching a new SYMS course on leadership.

Dr. Pava also hopes to improve communication between the students and the administration. “We hope that students feel free to come to me, Dr. Strauss, or Dr. Giloni. And if they have a problem let’s nip it in the bud before it gets big. Anytime a student wants to come make an appointment I’m happy to see the students and talk to the students.”

Strengthening the school’s Management Department, which, according to Dr. Pava has been “tired” of late, is another targeted goal of the new administration. A re-energized Management Department will provide students with a strong fourth option for a business major, in addition to accounting, finance, and marketing.

SYMS students have already seen marked improvements to the Management Department. “The management program has grown significantly this year and it is clear that it is going in the right direction,” says Tzvi Solomon, a junior majoring in management.

Alumni of SYMS are also encouraged by Dr. Pava’s appointment and what it means for the school’s future. "Dr. Pava's class was very organized and disciplined.  I'm sure he will be able to bring the same level of professionalism, clarity and efficiency to SYMS,” says Danny Shulman (SYMS ’11).

The announcement of the new appointments was accompanied by the announcement that SYMS is entering the final stages of the AACSB Accreditation process, a process that Dr. Pava has been involved in for several years, which he believes will yield immediate and concrete benefits. “I just got an email from a student. They are in some graduate program, and the graduate program isn’t recognizing their class that they took at SYMS because they only recognize credits from a school that has the AACSB international accreditation.” Securing accreditation will prevent alumni from encountering these frustrating situations in the future.

Students are also extremely excited about the forthcoming accreditation and believe that it bodes well for the business school. “I am interested in a career in finance, but I decided to be an economics major in Yeshiva College, rather than a finance major in SYMS, because I was worried about the reputation of SYMS. Becoming an accredited business school should go a long way in improving the school’s reputation,” says Yosef Van Bemelen (YC ’14). Indeed.

It is important to realize that the process has not been finalized and that formal accreditation depends on successful completion of a site visit next November, when a team from the AACSB will be conducting a final evaluation. But, Dr. Pava believes with unabashed confidence that SYMS will pass this last stage with flying colors. “We’re going to make it and I don’t think it’s even going to be close,” says Pava. “We’re above their standards.”

Another initiative being spearheaded by the new administration is the Business Honors and Entrepreneurial Leadership Program which will debut this fall. With a handful of incoming students for the Fall semester, the Honors Program will offer its students special internships and senior seminars in addition to engaging courses. The program is designed for students interested in becoming “leaders and doers,” and the administration hopes to build a program of 60-70 Honors students who fit this mold. While there is no published baseline requirement for acceptance, the Honors Program is looking for candidates with “very high SAT scores and evidence of leadership potential.”

For Dr. Pava, the Honors Program is an unequivocal indicator of the positive direction in which SYMS is headed. “I think it is very important to the whole school,” says Pava. “It’s sort of a signal that we are trying to raise the academic standards… across the board.” He also believes that the introduction of the Honors Program will help “level the playing field” between SYMS and its liberal-arts counterparts, YC and SCW. “In a school where the two liberal art schools have honors programs, the business school has to have an honors program.”

The momentum and positive energy which these new initiatives have infused within SYMS make Dr. Pava confident that the business school figures prominently in the University’s future. “We feel that SYMS is tremendous potential for this University. SYMS is a big part, in my opinion, of the future of the undergraduate education at Yeshiva University.”