HUC-JIR, North America’s pre-eminent progressive seminary, is approaching its 140th anniversary. In light of this significant milestone, we, like other universities and seminaries, are working to balance innovation and improvement with efficiency and sustainability. We are continuously advancing and, in recent years, have celebrated many successes, while tackling our challenges.
To ensure that the institution moves forward in a strategic, collaborative and transparent way, we have spent the past year forming our vision for the college-institute around five goals, and, subsequently, circulating our ideas throughout the HUC-JIR community. The five goals are:
1) Thought Leadership: We will develop a thought leadership initiative that will expand our reach via creative use of technology, teaching to key audiences for recruitment and development, and offering resources and educational opportunities for alumni and lay leaders in partnership with appropriate organizations. This will strive to enhance HUC-JIR’s position as a vibrant intellectual center for scholarship, research and learning within the Reform Jewish community and the Jewish world.
2) Recruitment and Admissions: We will evaluate, reshape and implement new recruitment and admissions strategies that will raise the number of quality incoming students across all programs and create a new generation of first-rate Reform Jewish leaders to serve the Jewish people and the world.
3) Sustainability and Growth: We will continue to build and sustain the Reform movement and its congregations and organizations, and work to secure its future and funding. At the same time, we will develop new sources of revenue and fundraising, enhanced efficiency in our operations and broader pluralistic outreach, making our institution more widely relevant, financially sustainable and self-sufficient.
4) Curriculum: We will create a process for the review and redesign of our various curricula and programmatic offerings, starting with the rabbinical program, in order to prepare students to meet the needs and challenges of the changing Jewish world. One specific focus of this process will be to examine the Hebrew skills of our students and how we can enhance language learning through creative new means in Jerusalem and the stateside campuses. We will also evaluate our faculty, library and archival resources for their appropriateness, relevance and currency.
5) Israel: We will continue the process of crafting HUC-JIR’s key role in building and sustaining the progressive and Reform values in the state of Israel, and the relationship between Israel and global Judaism, even as we examine new ways that our campus in Jerusalem can influence this relationship, produce revenue, and continue to build the Israeli Reform movement.
To move forward on accomplishing these five goals, the College-Institute has created a plan to implement 23 strategies in its first phase. Some of the strategies introduce entire new areas of programming, such as creating a thought leadership conference in which our faculty, alumni and students can share their work with the larger academic and Jewish community. Other initiatives expand on programs that are already in motion, such as our recruitment efforts to bring more high school and college age students to our campuses to nurture a passion for Jewish learning and community building.
Our sustainability goals include improving the marketing of our four beautiful campuses to our community partners to whom we can rent our space in the evenings and weekends, and perhaps create another stream of revenue to support our programs. In the next three years, we hope to both introduce new curriculum in the rabbinical school and reinvigorate our Hebrew education. In Israel, we are working on strategies to bolster support for our Israeli Rabbinical program and to bring more North American congregations to our stunning campus in Jerusalem for b’nai mitzvah, prayer and learning.
These five goals do not take away from our core mission; rather, they help us clarify and confirm how we can work together across our campuses and programs to continue to go from strength to strength. By staying true to these five goals, we will invigorate and enhance our ability to train the Jewish leaders of tomorrow.