Fundraising VP Steps Down Morning After Hanukkah Dinner and Convocation
Seth Moskowitz, the chief administrator of YU’s fundraising office, resigned his position of Vice President of Institutional Advancement on Monday, December 12, the morning after the annual Hanukkah Dinner and Convocation. The now-vacant position will remain empty for the time being, and President Richard Joel will personally oversee Institutional Advancement until he steps down on July 1.
Mr. Moskowitz joined YU’s senior leadership in 2014. At the time of his hiring, President Joel described him as “a consummate professional, a man of deep Jewish passion, and a person with deep commitments both to education.” He had “over thirty-five years of management and fundraising experience with non-profit, political, and communal organizations,” The Commentator reported at the time.
This year’s gala dinner, held at the Waldorf Astoria, raised “close to $4 million,” according to the YU News blog. The cost-per-person was $225, while the minimum donation to attend the dinner was $750. The 2014 event, the first under Mr. Moskowitz’s leadership, raised over $4.2 million. In 2015, the dinner gathered approximately $4 million. In the years before the university’s fundraising was under Mr. Moskowitz’s leadership, similar figures were collected. The same event in 1982, in perhaps one of its most successful iterations, raised $8 million and allowed for the construction of the Max Stern Athletic Center and endowment of the precursor to the current Honors Program for undergraduate men.
The annual Hanukkah Dinner and Convocation is the university’s primary annual fundraising event. At the yearly dinner, major donors are honored with symbolic doctorates and a distinguished dignitary delivers the keynote address at a ceremonial academic procession. Dinners in recent years have featured high-profile figures including George W. Bush, Andrew Cuomo, Michael Bloomberg, and Hillary Clinton. Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat delivered this year’s valedictory.
In an interview with The Commentator in 2015, Moskowitz said that, while YU’s fundraising arm had improved in recent years, he was working to advance operations further. “Compared to universities of our size, we’re doing remarkably well. We just need to do better.” He maintained that, despite YU’s financial struggles, he had seen no decline in donors’ willingness to give to the University. Potential benefactors might pose tough questions about the University’s plans for the future, but Mr. Moskowitz pointed out that all actively contributing donors raise objections at some point. “The art of fundraising is working through those objections.”
This article has been corrected from its original and print editions.