By: Sruli Fruchter  | 

24-Year-Old Alum Launches “Campaign” for YU’s New EVP-COO Post

Mordechai Weiss, a 2018 graduate of Yeshiva University and an incoming third-year student at the New York University School of Law, tossed his hat into the ring to become YU’s new executive vice president (EVP) and chief operating officer (COO). Weiss launched his “campaign” to gather support for his application on Monday, Aug. 17.

A third-generation YU alumnus, Weiss earned a Bachelor’s degree in accounting from the Sy Syms School of Business (SSSB) and graduated as the valedictorian of YU’s James Striar School (JSS) of Jewish Studies. Weiss is currently working as a summer associate at the Los Angeles-based law firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP.

The 24-year-old’s vision for YU centers around five key agendas: strengthening the alumni network, improving the university’s Career Center, connecting Beren and Wilf students, creating a curriculum and services to enhance student experience, and changing the campus culture. Weiss said that he believes these steps will return YU from its 97th-place national college ranking in the U.S News and World Report back to the top 50 schools, a focal point of his mission. Weiss further outlined these keys in his “campaign” video.

“It is time for YU to make a bold decision and choose me as Vice President to bring a youthful, passionate voice into the administration,” Weiss said. “I want the students and administrators to know that I will work tirelessly to bring the University back to its preeminence as a top 50 University.”

For the past several months, the university has been searching for an EVP-COO, a newly created role due to Senior VP Josh Joseph’s departure from YU to begin as EVP/COO at the Orthodox Union on Sept. 1. The job application instructs candidates to submit a resume and cover letter in confidence. 

Weiss confirmed with The Commentator that he reached out to YU students, YU alumni and various news outlets — including The Jewish Week and The New York Post — before submitting his job application.

According to its job description, the new EVP-COO will be YU’s “chief business, administrative, and operating officer,” tasked with “building a dynamic business model and operational framework” and “helping to define sustainable, efficient ways to deploy resources, deliver services and identify new sources of revenue and funding.” While the qualifications for an ideal candidate stress past managerial and leadership experience, there are no requisite years of experience explicitly cited for applying candidates. The application instructions note that “consideration of candidates will continue until the position is filled.”

“I expect individuals to object to my application due to my age,” Weiss told The Commentator. “I would respond that my age is my biggest asset. YU needs to attract and appeal to the younger generation of students and I will do exactly that. My passion and excitement will be shared with the students because they will experience representation of their voice at the executive level.”

During his time in YU, Weiss was active in student life and played on the men’s basketball team. He also launched LIT, an app that allows users to find “the hottest venues” for nights out with friends. Over the past few months, Weiss also posted several, now-deleted videos to his YouTube channel, including ones on summer fitness, law school and creating a “spiked” hot sauce.

Weiss told The Commentator how he networked with past and current students through “many, many hours of phone calls” to “get a better picture of what everyone was struggling with, especially from the women’s campus.” As of publication, over 160 people signed Weiss’ endorsement petition for the position, which he created the day he launched his campaign.

“During the past few months, Mordechai reached out and told me his idea to run for the Vice President [position] of Yeshiva University,” said Cloe Bohbot (SCW ‘19), Weiss’ close friend and Beren’s representative for his “campaign.” “I thought it was an amazing idea. Being a Stern student that was very involved in the social life of both [Beren and Wilf] campuses, I felt I knew the needs and wants of many of the students on the girl’s campus.”

Although the EVP-COO posting does not list any salary details, Weiss added that he “will donate [his] entire first year’s salary to directly fund the five keys of my agenda that will bring YU back to the top 50.” As The Commentator previously reported, for the 2018 fiscal year, Joseph’s salary as senior VP was reported at a base of more than $340,000 with over $150,000 of additional compensation. Additionally, while Weiss did not disclose the costs on his “campaign,” he noted that it was completely self-funded.

Since the EVP-COO will not be taking over all of Joseph’s responsibilities of Joseph’s senior VP position, it is unclear whether the EVP-COO will lead the committee, established by Joseph, to address the concerns of LGBTQ students at YU. 

Commenting on Joseph's committee, Weiss told The Commentator, “At this time, I do not know enough about the work of Rabbi Joseph’s committee in addressing the LGBTQ+ topic on campus. But I can tell you this — with all issues at YU, there will be a continuous and open dialogue between my office and the students.”

Weiss added,  “This is something I’m willing to risk everything for because I really think it’s so important.”

A YU spokesperson declined to comment on Weiss’ campaign and application for the position.

Photo Caption: 24-year-old Mordechai Weiss (SSSB ‘18) is applying to be YU’s new executive vice president and chief operating officer.
Photo Credit: Mordechai Weiss