Most SCW and YC Departments to Merge in Coming Semesters
Most Stern College for Women (SCW) and Yeshiva College (YC) departments will be merging together in the coming semesters, with some joining together in Fall 2021, according to Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Selma Botman.
As per Botman, this collaboration will allow faculty on the Wilf and Beren campuses “to plan together” and will give them the opportunity to be able to teach on both campuses. The planned merger will follow a similar model that is already in place at the Sy Syms School of Business (SSSB) and the Economics Department; SSSB departments have been integrated for Wilf and Beren students since its founding, and the Economics Department was first merged in 2009.
“This is not a restructuring but a unification of departments to broaden the curriculum where appropriate, align the curriculum where appropriate, [and] share faculty where appropriate,” Botman told The Commentator.
The Math, Political Science and History departments have already aligned. Dean of the Undergraduate Faculty of Arts and Science Karen Bacon and Botman will be speaking with the English, Psychology, Music, Physics and Chemistry departments regarding collaborations between SCW and YC departments for Fall 2021.
In the integrated SSSB model between Beren and Wilf campuses, SSSB Dean Noam Wasserman told The Commentator, faculty members teach both men and women on their respective campuses. The school also has “consistent requirements” and provides “similar high-quality content in the courses we offer on both campuses,” he added. He also emphasized that the merged program has a “cohesive Honors program.”
Economics Department Chair Dr. James Kahn said that when the Economics Department merged between SCW and YC in 2009, SCW students “benefited in the first six or seven years through exposure to a wider range of high-quality, research-oriented faculty.”
When asked how this change will affect terminations and new hires of professors, Bacon said, “As the semester unfolds, we will have more information about Fall 2021 plans.”
In 2015, then-YU President Richard Joel announced plans to “merge the faculty” of YC and SCW, according to a Times of Israel article published at the time. In a March 2015 interview with The YU Observer, Bacon explained her prospects for unifying some of the two school’s faculties and policies.
Some professors seemed optimistic about their departments possibly merging. “I hope that faculty cooperation across the two campuses will offer a variety of coursework and learning experiences for the students, enriching their college experience and offering new possibilities for mentorship and academic success,” expressed Fine Arts and Music Department Co-Chair Prof. Daniel Beliavsky.
Other professors felt that their department was already coordinating between YC and SCW. Dr. Raji Viswanathan, who is the co-chair of the Chemistry Department, said, “The Chemistry departments between the two campuses have always worked together and shared curricular innovations and materials. We have recently discussed our major requirements and are working to ensure that the requirements for the Chemistry and Biochemistry majors at both campuses are identical.”
Professors of already integrated departments spoke positively about their department’s coordination between YC and SCW. “We find this arrangement to be effective in offering students a wide array of courses,” said Dr. Joseph Luders, who is chair of the Political Science Department at YC and SCW and coordinates each campus’ schedule. “We find this arrangement to be effective in offering students a wide array of courses. Indeed, we might be regarded as a model for other departments.”
Luders added, “Such an arrangement may not be optimal for all departments for various reasons… departments should be able to think creatively about what sort of efficiencies or improvements might be achieved with closer coordination.”
One student was excited for the prospects of this change but felt nervous about some drawbacks. “I am definitely excited by the prospect of diversification in curriculum and just in categories in general,” said Rivka Schapiro (SCW ‘24), who is a physics major. “I am though a little bit worried that in the effort to bring in and diversify some depth or accessibility might be lost. For example, if there's more staff in a department it might cause all the staff members to be less attentive or give less time to each student. While it makes more sense that if there’s more faculty there would be more time to give attention to everybody, if there's a significant increase I am worried it might result in overall less attention being paid to students.”
Another student felt this was a move in the right direction. “I think it would be great to see more [professors] on both campuses,” shared Adam Bressler (YC ‘22), who is a psychology major. “The ability to offer more electives will give psychology students the flexibility to tailor their education in a direction that is more meaningful to them.”
Photo Caption: The planned merger will follow a similar model that is already in place at the Sy Syms School of Business and the Economics Department.
Photo Credit: The Commentator