By: Jonathan Levin  | 

Chaim Nissel Appointed as First Dean of Graduate Students, Will Oversee Development of Graduate Student Life Programs

Chaim Nissel, former vice provost of student affairs, was appointed this summer as Yeshiva University’s first dean of graduate students and will coordinate and develop student life for graduate students across all of YU’s graduate schools.

Nissel, appointed by Provost Selma Botman, was chosen for this position due to the growth of YU’s graduate programs, which have witnessed a 60 percent increase in student population since 2016 and are at their highest levels in YU’s history, with approximately 3,000 students enrolled.  Nissel will still retain his vice provost position and will continue to oversee some student services that affect undergraduate students. 

“The past 6 years have seen explosive growth of YU graduate programs,” Nissel told The Commentator. “YU’s Provost, Dr. Selma Botman, assigned me to the role of Vice Provost and Dean of graduate students to closely examine how we take care of our graduate students and to determine what additional service enhancements are needed to continue to best provide for them.”

Nissel, promoted in June, told The Commentator that he is currently exploring ways to best support graduate students, and has met every graduate dean, many associate deans and graduate student leaders to ascertain the individual needs of each program and school. After determining the needs of each program and school, Nissel will work with students and administrators to develop a student experience that can best support graduate students.

Previously, Nissel said, student life in graduate schools was done on a school-to-school basis, with some schools, like the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, having a more robust student experience than others, such as the Wurzweiler School of Social Work and the Katz School of Science and Health.

Although his work is still in the beginning stages, Nissel told The Commentator that graduate student life will look different than undergraduate student life and will vary based on each school and program due to the different demographics of each program. Some programs, Nissel explained to The Commentator, like those in Cardozo School of Law, are composed of students straight out of college, while others are composed of professionals looking for an additional degree. Consequently, student life will vary.

Administrators felt that Nissel was the right person for the job, and expressed confidence in his leadership. “We wanted a consummate, highly experienced, empathetic, student-centered professional to inaugurate and lead this position,” Yeshiva University Provost Selma Botman, who selected Nissel for the role, told The Commentator. “We found that person in Dr. Chaim Nissel.”

One of the big differences his new position has, Nissel told The Commentator, is its focus. Although some of his past titles, including university dean of students, have involved work that affected graduate students, his new position of graduate dean of students has a far greater focus on them.

Due to his promotion, Nissel will no longer oversee undergraduate student life or housing, which is now under Sara Asher’s purview, who was promoted to interim dean of undergraduate students this July. Nissel will continue to oversee the counseling center, Title IX and health and disability services, which affect both undergraduate and graduate students.

Graduate enrollment has risen 60 percent since 2016, and 27 new programs have been added during that period.

Nissel has worked in various university departments over the past twenty-five years. Beginning as a school psychologist for Yeshiva University High School for Boys (YUHSB) in 1996, he has been director of men’s housing, director of the counseling center, associate dean of students, university dean of students and vice provost of student affairs before his current promotion.

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Photo Caption: Chaim Nissel has been promoted to Dean of Graduate Students

Photo Credit: Dr. Chaim Nissel