Strategic Planning Update - September 21st, 2006 - Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
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Strategic Planning Update - September 21st, 2006

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Thursday, September 21, 2006

A Periodic Report to the HUC-JIR Community 

This is the second in a series of regular reports updating community members on the strategic planning implementation process. It is sent to all members of the College-Institute community. 

Over the summer, the strategic planning implementation process continued with the work outlined in the last update. During the months of July and August, the strategic planning implementation process continued to focus on key initiatives in the areas of academic excellence, financial sustainability and technology. In the academic areas, a number of task forces have been created to review particular programs and implement strategic change. In financial sustainability, the ongoing process of data collection and analysis continued, and preliminary reports from the consultants hired to review the College's finances were reviewed. A technology group has begun meeting on a weekly basis to forge a plan for the enhancement of technology at the College-Institute, with a focus on helping the institution function better as one institution and create better access to information. 

Academic Excellence 

Under the leadership of Dr. Norman Cohen and Sheila Lambert, the Strategic Planning Academic Programs Committee met this summer to continue its consideration of all HUC-JIR academic programs and support, and to establish mechanisms for review and change. Task forces comprising internal as well as external constituents and experts have been established for many program areas, and will meet this fall and spring, with an eye toward completing their work by the end of this academic year. These task forces will focus specifically on four areas: Graduate Studies; the Schools of Education; the Jewish Communal Service Program; and Enrollment Management and Recruitment. A task force on the School of Sacred Music will start its work in January, once Cantor Bruce Ruben has completed his first six months as program director. A significant effort is also now underway with respect to the Library, designed to review all library operations - from holdings and staffing to computer support and opening hours. These task forces will, over the next year, chart a course for institutional change that should improve our educational offerings, enhance our penetration of the market for students, and help similar programs work more closely together across the different campuses. 

Financial Sustainability Committee 

The Strategic Planning Financial Sustainability Committee (chaired by Jerry Lerner, Gary Bockelman and Mike Cheney) met this summer to hear preliminary reports from our consultants, Bell & Trice Enterprises, on the financial state of the College-Institute's activities in the United States. Since late June, the staff of the College-Institute has been collecting, reviewing and refining data in a few key areas: recruitment and enrollment figures for the past five years; human resource data including salaries and benefits; cost allocation information that shows the real costs of each of our academic programs and comparative data from parallel institutions (including seminaries and other institutions comparable in size and scope). This data is now in the hands of our consultants, which will allow them to provide the senior administration with detailed and constructive analyses of our financial situation to help chart the future path of the College's budget. Bell & Trice currently estimates the structural deficit of HUC-JIR at $2.5 to $3 million dollars annually. Bell & Trice's mandate is to provide the administration with $3-5 million dollars in potential opportunities for reductions in spending, which will serve as a starting point for the discussion of balancing the budget in time for the '07-'08 fiscal year. During the month of October, the senior administration will review the report from the consultants and translate that into an effective plan that will be presented to the leadership of the Board of Governors, the Financial Sustainability Committee and the Strategic Planning Implementation Committee to receive feedback before the November Governors meeting. The administration will then present the final plan to the Board of Governors for ratification at the November meeting in Cincinnati. 

This summer has also seen the creation of a detailed organizational chart for the entire College-Institute, permitting analysis of our organizational structure with far better accuracy. Each staff person has also been asked for an inventory of his/her work responsibilities, allowing the consultants to analyze staffing patterns currently in place for viability and feasibility, both from the perspective of financial sustainability and from a perspective of comparable benchmarks across campuses and at other institutions. 

On the Jerusalem campus, a similar process of review and analysis is beginning, which will lead to comparable analysis and, ultimately, to cost reductions in our international operations. Initial videoconferences will take place in early October, with the goal of in-person meetings with the senior administration in November, including the Jerusalem campus in the process of achieving financial sustainability.

Michael Cheney and his staff in the National Business Office are also completing a five-year budget projection with estimations of future expense growth based on Bell & Trice's assessment of the College-Institute's finances. This will help to ensure that the budget, once balanced, remains balanced in future years. 


Plans continue on the utilization of technology. Gregg Alpert and John Bruggeman have formed the core of a technology group that meets weekly now, along with members of the senior administration, to discuss the deployment, maintenance, utilization and future potential of technology at the College-Institute. Plans are to complete a draft strategic plan for technology by the end of September, to review this plan with tech-savvy Faculty, Students, Governors and Overseers in October, and to review it closely with a technology consultant in November. Implementation should begin shortly thereafter. Major developments in this area include a new financial information system (MIP), which should streamline and improve the function of our business office. Discussions are currently underway with a generous donor to fund the installation, training and cultural change needed to create a high-functioning Student Information System (SIS), which would include on-line registration, seamless financial aid processing and recruitment and student data tracking. The SIS would utilize well-designed links to our alumni and development software, and our MIP system, to allow for more efficient and accurate handling of and access to important student data. 

Pension Planning 

In an effort to achieve financial sustainability and to provide staff and faculty with broader retirement options, Gary Bockelman and Mike Cheney continue to work closely with Jerry Lerner, Chair of the Governors Benefits Committee, and three representatives of the faculty (Drs. David Aaron, Marla Abraham and S. David Sperling) to review options for shifting the pension plan to a defined contributions plan. Ongoing consultations are expected, with presentation of the new plan expected after the Board of Governors meeting in November, 2006, for implementation by January 1, 2007. The new plan should provide more portability and flexibility in investment options for employees, while providing more long term budget predictability for the College-Institute. 

We look forward to reporting further developments to you as the strategic planning implementation continues. Please do not hesitate to be in touch should you have any questions or concerns. Warm regards and best wishes for a shanah tovah umetukah, 

Dr. David Ellenson Burton Lehman
President Chair, Board of Governors
Barbara Friedman Dr. Aaron Panken
Co-Chairs, Strategic Planning Implementation Committee

Strategic Planning Implementation Committees (as of 9/20/2006) 

Strategic Planning Implementation Committee 
Dr. Aaron Panken and Barbara Friedman, Chairs
The role of this committee is to provide overall oversight of the implementation process, by supervising the work of the three subcommittees (Academic, Financial Sustainability and Future and Vision) and advancing the process of implementation in a timely way. 

Dr. Carole Balin
Howard Bernstein
Mark Biderman
Gary Bockelman
Mike Cheney
Dr. Norman Cohen
Erica Frederick
Dr. Sam Greengus 
Dr. Nina Hanan
Dr. David Kaufman
Sheila Lambert
Rabbi Naamah Kelman-Ezrachi
Jerry Lerner
Sylvia Posner
Terry Rosenberg
Jean Rosensaft
Nicki Tanner
Bonnie Tisch
Dr. David Ellenson, ex officio
Burton Lehman, ex officio 

Strategic Planning Implementation Academic Program Committee 

Dr. Norman Cohen and Sheila Lambert, Chairs
The role of this committee is to provide oversight of the implementation process where it focuses on academic programs, including working with faculty to create program reviews and 

Dr. Alyssa Gray
Dr. Sam Joseph
Fred Lane 
Dr. David Levine
Dr. Dvora Weisberg
Barbara Friedman, ex officio
Dr. Aaron Panken, ex officio

Strategic Planning Committee on Financial Sustainability 

Gary Bockelman, Mike Cheney and Jerry Lerner, Chairs
The role of this committee is to provide oversight of the implementation process where it focuses on financial sustainability. 

Dr. Rachel Adler
Howard Bernstein
Mark Biderman
Dr. Martin Cohen
Erica Frederick
Dr. Rick Sarason
Barbara Friedman, ex officio
Dr. Aaron Panken, ex officio 

Future and Vision Committee 

Dr. David Ellenson, Nicki Tanner and Terry Rosenberg, Chairs
The role of this committee is to consider avenues of work that expand and define an appropriate vision for the College-Institute's future work. 

Dr. Steven Cohen
Dr. Sharon Gillerman
Dr. Nina Hanan
Dr. Michael Marmur
Dr. Mark Washofsky
Barbara Friedman, ex officio
Dr. Aaron Panken, ex officio 

Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's leading institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates leaders to serve North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, museums, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding.