Richard Joel

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Richard M. Joel
President of Yeshiva University
Assumed office
Preceded by Norman Lamm
Succeeded by Ari Berman
Personal details
Born (1950-09-09) 9 September 1950 (age 66)
Spouse(s) Esther née Ribne
Alma mater New York University
Occupation attorney, professor

Richard M. Joel (born September 9, 1950) is the fourth president of Yeshiva University (YU), a Modern Orthodox Jewish university with some 7,000 students at its undergraduate and graduate divisions in New York City. President Joel is renowned as a charismatic leader and a captivating orator, and has traveled globally to dialogue with audiences on values-driven education, communal leadership, and Jewish identity. He has written on topics that include the BDS movement on college campuses and civil discourse.[1]

Academic and professional credentials[edit]

Richard Joel received his BA and JD from New York University, where he was a Root-Tilden law scholar, and has received honorary doctorates from Boston Hebrew College and Gratz College. He was an assistant district attorney and Deputy Chief of Appeals in the Bronx. His career continued as associate dean and professor of law at YU's Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.[2]

At Hillel[edit]

From 1989 to 2003, Joel served as President and International director of Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, an organization which supports Jewish life for college and university students throughout the world. In 1994, Joel orchestrated Hillel's independence from B'nai B'rith, its parent organization since 1925. Joel also increased the organization's financial stability and prestige by bringing on board major philanthropists such as Michael Steinhardt, Edgar Bronfman, Sr., and Lynn Schusterman and Charles Schusterman. During his tenure, Hillel partnered with Birthright Israel, and launched the Steinhardt Jewish Campus Service Corps, a group of recent college graduates tasked with engaging unaffiliated Jews and drawing them to Judaism and Jewish events. Hillel also expanded to the former Soviet Union and South America.[3] Joel's tenure at Hillel has been criticized by some as providing stylish instead of substantive Judaism.[4] (See also: Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life#Criticism) However, Joel has also been credited for his "skilled management, magnetism, personal warmth" and "clarity of vision".[3] Joel is credited as the one who "transformed this movement (Hillel) and put Jewish renaissance at the forefront of the community's agenda", and his contributions to Hillel have been defined as "immeasurable" by its past and present leadership.[5]

Investigating abuse[edit]

During his tenure at Hillel, Joel served as the head of the special commission impaneled by the Orthodox Union (OU) to investigate allegations that community leaders had ignored charges against the abusive outreach rabbi Baruch Lanner, an executive with the OU's National Conference of Synagogue Youth (NCSY). The commission concluded that many OU and NCSY leaders had made serious errors in judgment.

At Yeshiva University[edit]

President Joel at YU Commencement

Joel became president of YU in 2003, succeeding Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm, who had been president since 1976. Since assuming the presidency, President Joel has appointed new deans for Yeshiva College, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Syms School of Business, and the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS), added faculty positions throughout the university, and spurred wide-ranging improvements to campus life, including the construction of the Jacob and Dreizel Glueck Center for Jewish Study, which opened in August 2009, established the Center for Jewish Future,[6] whose mission is to have students engage in service learning programs that foster leadership and serve to enrich the Jewish community through the student body of Yeshiva University, established the Katz School of Graduate and Professional Studies,[7] and restructured Yeshiva University’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine.[8] Joel has strengthened the Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein and S. Daniel Abraham honors programs [9] and has focused on maximizing student success. With these advancements, Richard Joel has expanded the reputation of the University as Yeshiva started reaching a broader student base, honored current American political leaders,[10][11] and helped spread its reputation through such ventures as the Maccabeats and breaking a Guinness World Record.[12] Above all, with his characteristic charm and wit, President Joel can often be spotted around Yeshiva’s campuses engaging with students and learning about them; one of his great pleasures at Yeshiva is in serving on its faculty and teaching his weekly course. Following his lead, the university has further developed a culture of warmth.[13]

As president of RIETS, he has spearheaded efforts to reinvigorate professional education for rabbis, continuing education and rabbinic placement, and established the first of its kind in its field, the Rabbinic Personal Development Program, a joint Graduate Program in Pastoral Counseling between RIETS and Ferkauf. The joint program is an exciting new opportunity designed for second-, third- and fourth-year RIETS students who plan to pursue a career in Jewish communal work.[14] President Joel often speaks of a Yeshiva University education as "ennobling and enabling" a generation of leadership. Additionally, President Joel has established various centers and programs including the university's centers for Ethics, Public Health and the Jewish Future, and the Glatt Program on Israel and the Rule of Law. He has also established a Presidential Fellowship program that provides training and professional development to recent graduates to further their path toward communal leadership.

His salary in 2009 was reported to be $853,651, the highest of seventy six national Jewish organizations surveyed by The Forward,[15] and also the twelfth highest for a university president.[16]

On the 15th of March, 2015, the faculty of one of Yeshiva University's schools voted "No Confidence" in Joel, especially targeting the University's financial troubles over the recent years.[17][18]

Personal life[edit]

Joel was born on September 9, 1950, and was raised in Yonkers, New York. He and his wife, and best friend Esther (née Ribner), who holds a PhD from YU's Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology, have six children all of whom have attended Yeshiva University schools, and ten grandchildren, who are the great joy of their lives. They currently reside in Riverdale, New York.[19] Richard Joel has also performed for the Maccabeats.


  1. ^ "Disagreeing Agreeably". Higher Ed. 
  2. ^ "Biography of Richard M. Joel". Yeshiva University. Retrieved July 22, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b "Hillel Faces New Campus Challenge: A New President To Lead Its Mission". The Jewish Federations of North America. December 9, 2002. Retrieved July 22, 2014. 
  4. ^ Jeremy Deutchman (March–April 1999). "Hillel Incorporated: The Franchising of Modern American Jewry". Tikkun. Archived from the original on January 24, 2003. Retrieved July 22, 2014. 
  5. ^ Edgar M. Bronfman; Lynn Schusterman; Michael Steinhardt; Neil M. Moss (December 5, 2002). "Richard Joel Named Yeshiva University President". Hillel. Retrieved July 22, 2014. 
  6. ^ Shuki Taylor (August 30, 2013). "Eight Years of Yeshiva University's Center for the Jewish Future Counterpoint Israel". Retrieved August 30, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Yeshiva University Establishes The Katz School of Graduate and Professional Studies". Retrieved 2016-03-22. 
  8. ^ "Yeshiva University, Montefiore finalize new agreement for Albert Einstein College of Medicine". Retrieved 2015-09-10. 
  9. ^ YCHONORS, Evan (April 28, 2010). "Honors Library Opens for Business". Retrieved April 28, 2010. 
  10. ^ "Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton Addresses Albert Einstein College of Medicine's 50th Anniversary Gala". Retrieved 2005-09-22. 
  11. ^ "Sen. McCain Calls YU Value-Centered Institution and Israel America's 'Natural Ally'". Retrieved 2006-12-11. 
  12. ^ "Dreidelpalooza". Retrieved 2010-11-11. 
  13. ^ "Biography". Retrieved 2016-10-13. 
  14. ^ "RIETS & YU's Ferkauf Grad School Announce Program in Pastoral Counseling". The Jewish Voice. August 24, 2016. Retrieved August 24, 2016. 
  15. ^ "Salaries of U.S. Jewish Communal Leaders". The Jewish Daily Forward. December 16, 2011. Retrieved July 22, 2014. 
  16. ^ Mintz, Evan (December 7, 2010). "Yeshiva President Joel's Salary Twelfth Highest in Survey". Archived from the original on December 20, 2010. Retrieved May 17, 2012. 
  17. ^ "The Jewish Week | Connecting the World to Jewish News, Culture, and Opinion". The Jewish Week. Retrieved 2015-09-28. 
  18. ^ "YU faculty vote no-confidence against head Richard Joel". Retrieved 2015-09-28. 
  19. ^ McNeil, Kate (January 3, 2008). "For Yeshiva's president, life can imitate television". The Riverdale Press. Retrieved May 3, 2008. Riverdale resident Richard Joel compares his job—president of Yeshiva University—to the presidency of the United States. 

External links[edit]