By: Raphi Singer  | 

Dr. Mordecai Katz, Major YU Benefactor, Dies at 88

Dr. Mordecai D. Katz, a major donor to YU’s Katz School of Science and Health, passed away on Thursday, March 19 at the age of 88. Katz, along with his wife, Dr. Monique C. Katz, donated $25 million to form the Katz School in 2016.

Katz was vice-chairman of the Yeshiva University Board of Trustees and a trustee of YU for 25 years. Additionally, Katz was chair of the Board of Overseers of the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies and a member of the Board of Overseers of the Azrieli Graduate School.  In 1993, Katz was awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters from YU for his commitment to championing its work.

“Dr. Katz was a committed philanthropist whose generosity and leadership have transformed Yeshiva University and the Jewish world,” President Ari Berman told The Commentator. “Together with his wife Dr. Monique C. Katz, the Katzes have long been extraordinary champions for our community. He led by example, always looking for ways to spread our Jewish values and ensure great success for our students.”

After graduating from Talmudic Academy — an earlier name of Yeshiva University’s High School for Boys — in 1948, Katz attended the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn where he received a bachelor's degree in 1952. He then received a master’s degree in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1953 and a master’s degree in industrial management from Polytech Institute in 1961. 

From 1963 to 1967, Katz was the director of corporate planning at Kollsman Instrument Corporation, an aircraft instrumentation manufacturing corporation. Katz was also president of Kollsman Motors, a subsidiary of Kollsman Instrument from 1967 to 1970, then becoming promoted to vice president of the entire corporation. 

Katz then decided to enroll in law school and received a juris doctorate from New York University in 1978. Upon graduation from NYU Law, he was an associate for three years at Fried, Frank a major New York City law firm, before leaving to become a private investor with a home office in order to be able to spend more time with his family.

The Katz School offers graduate degrees in artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, biotech and health, digital media and fintech, and associates degrees in management or liberal arts. The school also contains a “pathways” program, designed for undergraduate students to enroll in a bachelor’s program at Yeshiva College upon successful completion of an associate's degree; additionally, graduating Yeshiva University seniors are offered 50% tuition scholarship and guaranteed admissions to a masters degree, if they meet eligibility requirements.

”Mordecai Katz was singularly admired for so many reasons,” Dean of the Undergraduate Faculty of Arts and Sciences Karen Bacon said. “He was a man of moderation in his personal life,  but passionate about his commitment to family, to Jewish education and to the State of Israel. Dr. Katz was an exceptionally gifted problem solver who was  invaluable in helping to position Yeshiva  University for the future.” 

“Dr. Katz was an optimist,” shared Paul Russo, dean of the Katz School. “As we talked through strategies for the Katz School of Science and Health, he saw only the possible and the pathway to make it happen. He had just a few guidelines for the school: it should be built on excellence and be sure to add in Jewish values wherever you can. I am personally grateful for the chance to have worked with him.”

Katz is survived by his wife, Dr. Monique C. Katz, and his four children, Rachel Katz, Michael Katz, Gail Katz and Debra Katz, and grandchildren.


Photo Caption: The Katz School was formed in 2016.

Photo Credit: Yeshiva University