May 4, 2020 - Towards a Brighter Future

Office of the President


My Dear Friends, 

The human toll of this virus has been overwhelmingly painful for our YU family as we have lost many beloved people. A woman who gave so much of her life to YU and who was like the Queen of our community, Mrs. Mindy Lamm, was recently taken from us. We have lost benefactors, alumni and members of our staff. And just last week, one of our beloved students, Saadya Ehrenpreis, passed away. A black cloud of avelut hovers over our entire community. And in this time, when we are all separate from each other—there is loss and there is loneliness. We draw some comfort in knowing that we are not walking through this dark time alone. Our consolation rests in our relationships with each other, our families and Hashem. 

And we also draw comfort in our belief in the future. The history of our people has shown time and time again that we rise from turmoil and challenge, and that our pathway forward is through our commitment to education and the next generation. It is through educating our next generation in our texts and values that we ensure a brighter future. This belief in our future is what fuels our mission at Yeshiva University. We are always in session at YU because we have an essential purpose. We educate the leaders of tomorrow with the positive Jewish values to make a difference in our community and the world. 

Driven by the importance of our mission, we are assiduously working to meet the deep challenges that the coronavirus has created for all universities and institutions of higher education. In close consultation with government leaders, infectious disease experts and leading public health authorities, working groups throughout the University are developing the roadmap to return to campus in the Fall while planning for all possible contingencies.  There are many phases in a gradual process towards a full return to campus, and I regularly speak with presidents of universities throughout New York and the United States as well as with key industry leaders to draw from their insight and best practices. As the health situation continues to unfold, we will gain greater visibility as to who will be on campus and when, and we anticipate being able to share our assessment towards the end of June. 

At the same time that we are planning for the next semester, we have also taken immediate financial measures to preserve jobs, enhance student aid and better position ourselves for our future: 

  • We have set a freeze on all capital projects, travel, new hires and unspent budgeted expenses. 
  • The senior leadership team has volunteered to take pay cuts through the end of calendar 2020. I will be taking a 20% pay cut, and each member of my senior leadership team will be taking a pay cut in the 5%-10% range.
  • We have redeployed personnel to maximize our remote work schedule. Some employees whose jobs cannot be done remotely are being furloughed, which will enable them to retain their health benefits and become eligible for state and federal assistance.
  • We have already secured and continue to pursue all possible federal and state assistance.
  • We are also uncovering opportunities that are emerging from this crisis, as greater online capabilities are creating new areas for university development and student growth. 

Our current greatest concern is the need for increased financial aid for our students and their families. The economic unrest has caused great financial pressure on many families in our community. We want to ensure every student has access to a transformative Yeshiva University education and be positioned to become a leader in the world of tomorrow. As such, we are launching today an Emergency Scholarship Campaign to directly assist our students who are in need and who have been deeply affected by this virus. Please donate directly to the campaign—every dollar goes to help a future student leader. 

We are living in a difficult time, and we draw comfort and hope in looking at our next generation and thinking of the world they will create. Together—with your continued support—we will succeed in educating the leaders of tomorrow who will be a blessing to our community and guide us towards a brighter future.

Thank you for your continued partnership. 

Warmest wishes,

Ari Berman

 Emergency Scholarship Campaign