President Joel Will Not Renew Contract, Announces Formation of Search Committee for Replacement
In an email Thursday morning, President Joel announced that he will not renew his contract as President of Yeshiva University when it expires in 2017. President Joel is currently in the third year of his third five-year contract. He stated that Chairman of the Board, Moshael Strauss, will lead the search team for Joel’s successor.
The last presidential search began in March 2001, and soon engulfed the University in controversy. The process took a year and a half featuring multiple candidates withdrawing, and several proposed names receiving public outcry. Even after selecting Joel, the debates continued. Prior to Joel’s tenure, all three Presidents had been rabbis, and the roles of President and Rosh Ha-Yeshiva went hand-in-hand. With Joel’s hiring these roles were split, with Rabbi Lamm continuing as Rosh Ha-Yeshiva. This split drew intense cautioning and disapproval from many of the Roshei Yeshiva, eventually leading to a Tehillim rally about Joel’s appointment. After this tenuous start with RIETS though, President Joel soon established a courteous relationship.
Nonetheless, this new search team re-opens the question about these two roles, especially since Rabbi Lamm retired from his position in 2013, and there is no current Rosh Ha-Yeshiva. The search team can return to the former model, appointing someone as both President and Rosh Ha-Yeshiva. Or, they can continue this split between the two roles, in which case they must choose whether to appoint a new Rosh Ha-Yeshiva, since Rabbi Lamm retired. Continuing without a new Rosh Ha-Yeshiva might re-ignite the debate about appointing a non-Rabbinic President. Conversely, many may find comfort from the smooth and civil interactions between Joel and RIETS these past thirteen years.
The announcement of a search team for the next president, arrives concurrent with the finalization of Yeshiva’s agreement with Montefiore and Einstein which marks a serious step towards financial stability. President Joel and Moshael Strauss will aim to continue this stability amid the often tumultuous and contentious process of searching for future leadership.