Richard M. Joel became Yeshiva University’s fourth president on September 21, 2003, and was named Bravmann Family University Professor in April 2010.
Over the past 14 years, President Joel has built upon the rich tradition of this storied institution by placing a renewed emphasis on the student experience, academic excellence, Torah scholarship and communal involvement.
With these advancements, and guided by the distinctive belief in education as a process of “ennobling and enabling” young women and men to build whole and meaningful lives, Yeshiva has emerged as North America’s premier Torah-informed university. Further, with President Joel's guidance, Yeshiva University has expanded its focus far beyond the walls of the University, both through professional and rabbinic placement globally and through service learning missions worldwide.
President Joel can often be spotted around Yeshiva’s campuses engaging and learning about students with his characteristic charm and wit; one of his great pleasures at Yeshiva is serving on its faculty and teaching his weekly course. Following his lead, the University has further developed a culture of warmth.
Renowned as a charismatic leader and a captivating orator, President Joel has traveled globally to dialogue with audiences on value-driven education, communal leadership, and Jewish identity. Just as Yeshiva University has embraced its role as the flagship institution of American Modern Orthodoxy, President Joel has in many ways become more than a university president but also a true spokesperson for the Jewish people.
Before taking the helm at Yeshiva, President Joel earned his reputation as a dynamic force with young people as President and International Director of Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life. There, he facilitated an extraordinary renaissance of Jewish life on campuses by building numerous new facilities, partnering in the creation of Birthright Israel and using engagement and empowerment models to reach Jewish youth.
Born in the Bronx, nearby Yeshiva’s Wilf Campus, President Joel earned his B.A. and J.D. from New York University, where he was a Root-Tilden Scholar, and has received honorary doctorates from Boston Hebrew College and Gratz College. He also served as Assistant District Attorney in New York, Deputy Chief of Appeals in the Bronx and Associate Dean and Professor of Law at YU’s Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.
President Joel considers his greatest accomplishment marrying his best friend and partner, Esther, who holds a PhD from Yeshiva’s Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology. Together they have six children, all of whom attended Yeshiva University, and ten grandchildren, who are the great joys of their lives.