Mission and History
In 1987 the Sy Syms School of Business was established through a generous gift by Mr. Sy Syms. From its inception, the school pledged to offer a unique and comprehensive curriculum in business with strong liberal arts and a deep grounding in Judaic studies. The founding dean, Dr. Michael Schiff, formerly head of the accounting department at NYU’s Stern School of Business, and the founding associate dean, Ira Jaskoll, quickly established it as a key business school in New York City, adding it to the many strong undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools already offered at Yeshiva University.
Faculty members were recruited who had both the highest academic and scholarly credentials, as well as cutting-edge professional experience. The enthusiasm for business was being met as students applied and began to enroll in the Sy Syms School.
An active Placement Office was established with local, national, and international firms excited about hiring Syms graduates. Not only were students well prepared academically, but the dual curriculum and ethical basis of their Judaic and secular studies classes made them extremely attractive to potential employers. As the alumni continued to excel, recruiters continued to come back for more.
In the early years, the school hosted distinguished visiting faculty through the Dr. Ira Kukin Distinguished Visiting Professorship. These appointments included Dr. Franco Modigliani of MIT and a Nobel Prize winner, and Dr. Clarence Walton, former president of Catholic University, who taught our first-ever course in corporate social responsibility.
With the arrival of Dr. Harold Nierenberg as the second dean, the school moved into an expansion phase. The Ira Rennert Entrepreneurial Institute was created to assist Syms students in starting and running their own businesses. The Doris and Dr. Ira Kukin Entrepreneurial Lecture Series provided, and continues to provide, students with the opportunity to interact with top corporate executives and CEOs. Speakers included Michael Bloomberg, Alan "Ace" Greenberg of Bear Stearns, Mickey Drexler of J Crew, Ivan Seidenberg of Verizon, Warren Eisenberg of Bed Bath and Beyond, Joel Mael of the Florida Marlins, Sumner Redstone of Viacom, and Abby Joseph Cohen of Goldman Sachs.
The school also began to offer the Dr. William and Bernice Schwartz Business Plan Competition with substantial cash prizes for outstanding business plans. A Syms Alumni Association was established, with many alumni wanting to give back to the school.
The third dean, Dr. Charles Snow, launched the Executive Roundtable, chaired by Josh Weston, former CEO of ADP, where students, alumni and members of the Sy Syms School of Business Board of Overseers would meet over dinner to network.
Over the years, one of the highlights of the schools has been the annual Syms School of Business Student Dinner and Reception. The dinner, which was organized by the Syms Student Council, was held in different venues each year including the Museum of Jewish Heritage; the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum; the Yeshiva University Museum; Chelsea Piers; the South Street Seaport; and the Circle Line.
In 2005, the school hosted its second Noble Prize winner, Dr. Robert Aumann of Hebrew University, the first Torah Observant Jew to win a Nobel Prize in Economics.
With the arrival of Dr. Michael Ginzberg as the fourth dean of Syms, the school enhanced it academic presence and reputation. Accreditation in AACSB International was made and continues to be a priority for the school. A new, updated curriculum was created and launched in the fall of 2010. The size of the faculty was increased and the amount and quality of scholarly publications increased dramatically. An entrepreneur-in-residence was named, Professor Michael Strauss, to assist students is developing their business ideas and to help set up internships within the community.
The first graduate program was started in fall 2009, an MS in Accounting, to fulfill the New York State 150-credit requirement for Certified Public Accountants. The first class graduated in May 2010.
On June 1, 2011, the University announced a new leadership team as part of a broad, University-wide, re-imagining process, signally the beginning of our next phase of growth and development.
Under the new leadership Professor Mike Strauss (interim dean) and Dr. Avi Giloni (associate dean), there is a renewed focus on integrating ethics into every course, celebrating the spirit of Jewish entrepreneurship across the curriculum and emphasizing experienced-based learning in everything we do. We are returning to the founding values of both the University and the business school in order to re-energize our efforts as we move into the future. We do so to better articulate our mission and goals, to measure our progress in a systematic and rational way, and to make ongoing changes as needed. While maintaining its commitment to excellence in research, the school is re-dedicating itself to meeting the demanding and ever-changing needs of its current and future students, and other stakeholders.
In the summer of 2012, our unique Sabbath observant Executive MBA (EMBA) enrolled its first cohort of students. Classes are being held on Sundays instead of the usual Saturdays. In the fall of 2012, we launched the Honors and Entrepreneurial Leadership Program. We are continuously planning and designing news courses like Principles of Success and the Causes and Cures of the Financial Crisis taught by leading academics and practitioners.
The particular mission of the Sy Syms School of Business is to be the business school appropriate to Yeshiva University, a university with a unique mission of Torah Umadda that emphasizes quality teaching and research, highly respected by students, parents, alumni and our academic colleagues.
- Offer quality undergraduate programs that equip students for meaningful and challenging careers
- Offer competitive graduate and executive programs, complementing other programs at YU, to a wide student population
- Assure that our programs have a clear ethical basis and a global orientation
- Inculcate Jewish values in our courses and programs
- Embrace alumni and the business community and involve them in our programs
- Conduct research that addresses issues that matter and make meaningful contributions to practice and theory