By: Commentator Staff  | 

BREAKING: Faculty of Yeshiva College Vote "No Confidence" in Yeshiva University President

Richard Joel, the president of Yeshiva University, received a decisive vote of “No Confidence” this week from the faculty of Yeshiva College, Yeshiva University in New York City. This vote was organized by the Yeshiva College Executive Committee, the elected body for faculty governance of the undergraduate college for men.

The full time faculty teaching at Yeshiva College voted 80% “no confidence,” 3% “confidence,” and 17% abstaining, with 64% of the faculty voting.

Richard Joel became president of Yeshiva University in 2003. His tenure at the university has recently been marked by the reported $100 million loss to the university’s endowment from investments with Bernard Madoff, a trustee of the university; spiraling deficits that have left the university nearly $600 million in debt; and plummeting bond ratings.  In its March 21, 2014 downgrade of Yeshiva University’s bond rating, the Moody’s “Credit Focus” cited “Poor financial oversight and high expenses caused deep and growing operating deficits that will continue.  Management’s unwillingness or inability to adjust the university’s strategic plan and business model, combined with weak financial reporting, led to six years of deficits.”  In an attempt to reduce its running deficits, Yeshiva University has been selling assets and making severe cuts to its academic and other operations.

Sent by the Yeshiva College Executive Committee:


We, the Yeshiva College faculty, write to make public our concern for the future of our university.  It is now known that, aside from the Albert Einstein Medical School, the university was spending on average $50 million more annually than it was taking in. There were no systems in place for financial reporting, and the administration essentially flew blind when it came to finances, leading the university to the brink of catastrophe. Only when the university's finances came under intense scrutiny did the administration finally admit to the reality it had created.

We now face the inevitable educational consequences of this mismanagement. Plans have been presented to us by the Provost and a team of hired financial consultants, with only minimal time for proper consultation through accepted governance procedures.  These plans threaten to reverse ten years of improvements in undergraduate education at our University. Staffing may be so greatly reduced that we must choose between eliminating key parts of our core curriculum and shutting down courses of instruction for majors. Whatever choice we make, we will no longer be able to offer anything resembling the education that the Yeshiva College diploma ought to represent.

As faculty members, we have indicated our willingness to partner with the administration and trustees to ensure a vibrant, educationally sound curriculum and maintain high academic standards under the current budgetary constraints. Indeed, we view this as our responsibility. Despite numerous requests since the beginning of the current academic year, we have never received clear statements regarding the budgetary impacts of the proposed curricular changes.

It has been deeply disturbing that the Administration has consistently refused to take responsibility for the results of their mismanagement. Statements have repeatedly been made about the markets, about particular one-time scandals, and about the broader economic situation generally and in higher education. But the depth of the financial crisis and its direct impact on education at Yeshiva University are actually found nowhere but here.