By: Nolan Edmonson  | 

Yeshiva University Formally Invests Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman as Fifth President

To great fanfare, President Berman ushers in new ‘World of Tomorrow’ for Yeshiva University

Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman was installed this morning as Yeshiva University’s fifth president and with his investiture came much celebration and festivity.

The ceremony took place in the historic Lamport Auditorium, filled with faculty, alumni, trustees and students--a cross-section of the university’s past and present. Infused with an atmosphere of new beginnings, the slogan “the world of tomorrow” graced programs and pins for the event.

Throughout the two-hour program speakers touched on the future-focused theme, noting the institution's storied history and significance for the Jewish people, while pointing decidedly towards a pivot where the university adjusts to account for a “contemporary reality” that requires focus on scientific innovation, analytical skills, and global awareness and reach.

The program began rather ceremoniously with members of Yeshiva faculty from each of the graduate schools parading down the aisles of Lamport auditorium dressed in their academic regalia. Students and various alumni and friends of the university preceeding them.

Esteemed guests included former presidents Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm and Richard Joel, United States Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and several New York City councilmen and assemblymen.

Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Selma Botman served as the master of ceremonies in the role of Herald. She acknowledged the historic significance of the day while reiterating how the university under the its new leadership would be lead into the “world of tomorrow.”

After a stirring rendition of the national anthem by the acapella group the Y-Studs, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis gave the opening benediction. He set the tone for the gravity of the day when he remarked to President Berman that “great success is within your reach.” Rabbi Mirvis went on to mention how the world was indebted to YU for its pioneering in the philosophy of Torah U’Maada. The acknowledgement of the university’s storied past and the hope for its future was a theme heard throughout many of the speeches of the day.

Vice Dean of the Cardozo School of Law Myriam Gilles gave well wishes on behalf of the faculty and spoke with great excitement about the future of the school and, in particular, the strides being made among our faculty in their respective fields of research.

Rabbi Dr. J.J. Schachter introduced President Berman to the stage, after acknowledging that, “there is more ink left to write in the book of the history of Yeshiva University.” Then with great excitement for the future of the school, assured those present that he had faith in Ari Berman to continue the story of YU into the future.

President Berman took the opportunity to thank all those in attendance before beginning his 40-minute address to the Yeshiva community. In his speech he expressed great appreciation to and for his predecessors, pausing to allow applause for his living predecessors President’s Lamm and Joel. He then proceeded to detail what he believed were the core principles of Yeshiva, which he labelled “Torot.”

Defining Principles. President Berman reflected upon the future of the university through the context of its core tenets. The new president outlined five principles through which the future of YU was to be realized. They were Torat Emet (steadfast dedication to truth and its pursuit), Torat Chaim (valuing the importance of the lives of those around us), Torat Adam (realizing the humanity in others and treating them as such), Torat Chesed (a principle that seeks to exercise compassion in our everyday dealings with each other), Torat Tzion (a redemptive spirit that recognizes the value and importance of diaspora Judaism but also looks forward to the future of the Jewish people and the flourishing of the land of Israel). President Berman stated that Yeshiva University is “located at the nexus of heritage and pioneering” and heralded that “the future of Yeshiva University as an institution is bright.”

Looking to layout a plan for his tenure founded on the above principles, Berman laid out three main areas the university would be looking expand for the future in order to continue in Yeshiva’s core mission.

New Industries. Recognizing rapid advances and development in the world and its changing economy, Rabbi Berman pointed to new areas where Yeshiva could expand and excel. “As the global economy evolves, we will create new opportunities for our students in the area of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), as well as in the health fields.” He noted the marketplace of tomorrow will be in high-demand for students capable of coding and data analytics, alongside entrepreneurial experience, and that the university would see to it that students are given the opportunity to study and grow in these areas.

New Marketplaces. Here, Berman announced the university would be redoubling its efforts to bring in new student populations from across the United States and across the globe. He stressed that the university would specifically eye students who would be role models for the “Five Torot” he mentioned earlier. This would include “students who show a propensity and passion for Torah studies, who would display their capabilities in areas that create knowledge like science and technology, for young social entrepreneurs who stand out for their social contributions, or those who have shown the courage of convictions to respond to the historical opportunities of our era” declared Berman. YU would encourage this behavior and work to bring those engaging in these types of activities by establishing scholarships for students demonstrating these traits, like volunteering for Sherut Leumi (national service in Israel) or joining the Israeli Defense Forces or the American Armed Forces.

New Educational Pathways. Berman asserted the university would start to conceptualize itself “as a single, interconnected network, instead of a collection of separate schools.” This would include the creation and expansion of pathways between Yeshiva’s undergraduate and graduate programs, as well as integrating the vast network of alumni who could serve as “connectors” for current students as they move into the workforce. Additionally, Berman stressed YU would be looking to connect with other universities, citing a recent agreement with Bar Ilan and Hebrew Universities in Israel, to create bridge program for Yeshiva undergraduates in computer science to pursue master’s study in the fields of data science, cybersecurity and information technology.

By innovating and improving in these areas, Berman hoped to better prepare students for the “marketplace of tomorrow.” He stressed that all of this would be done with the “overarching grand purpose of moving history forward...all of this in service to God.”