Rabbi David Ellenson has announced the retirement of Dr. Steven F. Windmueller as Dean of HUC-JIR’s Los Angeles campus as of July 1, 2010. Appointed Dean in June 2006, Dr. Windmueller was named to the Dr. Alfred Gottschalk Chair in Jewish Communal Service in March 2009. He will be succeeded by Dr. Joshua Holo, currently the Director of the Louchheim School of Judaic Studies at HUC-JIR/Los Angeles.
“Dr. Windmueller has advanced the Los Angeles campus’s academic programs, including our rabbinical program, Rhea Hirsch School of Education, and School of Jewish Communal Service, our innovative research institutes, including the Kalsman Institute on Judaism and Health and the Institute for Judaism and Sexual Orientation, and our unique relationship with the University of Southern California through our Louchheim School’s instruction of over 600 USC undergraduates each her and our partnership with USC and Omar Ibn al-Khattab Foundation in the creation of the Center for Muslim-Jewish Engagement,” said Rabbi Ellenson. “His expertise in Jewish public affairs, community relations, public policy, and leadership has been imbued into our students’ training, as they prepare for careers of leadership for the Reform Movement and the Jewish people worldwide. Furthermore, he has nurtured the growth of the Los Angeles campus’s Board of Overseers by developing a cohort of distinguished communal leaders and philanthropists dedicated to supporting HUC-JIR’s mission. Upon his retirement, he will continue to serve as a valued member of our faculty.”
Serving during a significant period of transition, Dr. Windmueller welcomed new directors into their positions: Dr. Michael Zeldin at the Rhea Hirsch School of Education, Richard Siegel at the School of Jewish Communal Service, and Dr. Dvora Weisberg as Director of the School of Rabbinical School, and the transition of Rabbi Richard Levy from nurturing rabbinical studies into a fully ordaining program to becoming Rabbi of the Synagogue and Director of Spiritual Growth. He helped integrate emerging young scholars onto the faculty, including Dr. Tali Hyman, Dr. Joshua Garroway, Dr. Bea Lawrence, and Dr. Leah Hochman. Campus life was enriched through the dedication of the Yanov Holocaust Torah, as well as a series of art exhibitions and permanent installations to enrich the learning environment. The campus has hosted an array of intellectual academic leaders, including the Steven Sample, President of USC, and the Presidents of two sister institutions, the LA Trade Tech and the College of Mt. Saint Mary's. Most recently, Dr. Windmueller welcomed the Union for Reform Judaism’s West Coast operating and the Pacific Association of Reform Rabbis (PARR) office onto the campus.
“It has been a privilege to share this meaningful and rewarding journey with my esteemed colleagues on the faculty, including Rabbi Richard Levy, Dr. Sharon Gillerman, Dr. Reuven Firestone, Dr. Joshua Holo, Dr. William Cutter, Professor Sara Lee, Dr. Tamara Cohn Eskenazi, Dr. Isa Aron, Dr. Michael Zeldin, Dr. Stephen Passamaneck, among others, who have all produced major academic achievements while providing exemplary teaching and mentorship. Working with extraordinary lay leaders Robert Kopple, past Chair of the Los Angeles Board of Overseers, and Sue Hochberg, the new Chair, has led to the growth of our Board to encompass representatives from throughout the western United States, the creation of Young Ambassadors to the College, and strengthened the fiscal sustainability of our programs. I have been inspired by our students’ passion, creativity, and commitment to Judaism and the Jewish people.”
Dr. Windmueller served for over a decade as Director of HUC-JIR’s School of Service (1995 to 2006). Prior to coming to HUC-JIR in Los Angeles, he held a number of prominent positions within the Jewish community over the course of a thirty-year professional career. Most recently, he served for ten years as the Executive Director of the Community Relations Committee of the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles. Dr. Windmueller had previously served for twelve years as a federation director in upstate New York. He began his professional career on the staff of the American Jewish Committee.
A specialist on political issues and American Jewish affairs, Dr. Windmueller holds a doctorate in International Relations from the University of Pennsylvania and has held academic appointments at several major institutions of higher learning. He has appeared on CNN, PBS, NBC, and other nationally syndicated media offering commentaries on Jewish public affairs matters. Over the years his more than thirty articles and monographs have appeared in such publications as The Los Angeles Times, Sh’ma and Moment magazines, the Jerusalem Letter, and the Journal of Jewish Communal Service. During his professional service, Dr. Windmueller has consulted with government officials and political candidates and has had occasion to represent the Jewish community on various international missions. He has contributed a number of articles to recent books on Jewish public policy and leadership issues. His Pew-funded research on the major national Jewish community relations agencies appeared in a recent publication, Jewish Polity and American Civil Society: Communal Agencies and Religious Movements in the American Public Square (Roman and Littlefield, 2002).
Dr. Windmueller received a grant in 1999 from the John Randolph Haynes Foundation to undertake the first major study of Latino-Jewish relations in Los Angeles. Key elements of this research have appeared in various publications, including a recent book, California Jews. In 2004 he produced a textbook on the practice of Jewish community relations, entitled You Shall Not Stand Idly By, published by the American Jewish Committee. In early 2005, Dr. Windmueller collaborated with Professor Gerald Bubis in producing the first study on the formation of the UJC (United Jewish Communities), entitled Predictability to Chaos?? How American Jewish Leaders Reinvented their National Jewish Communal System. His work in 2007 on “The Second American Jewish Revolution” has appeared in several different publications; this research was followed by a 2008 article, entitled “A Jewish Perspective on the Global Economic Revolution” which was published by USC’s Casden Institute, Annual Review, Volume 6. This past year, the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, where Dr. Windmueller serves as a Fellow, released his study on “Jewish Communities of the West”.
Currently, he is writing about Jewish political behavior, having released several studies on Jewish voting patterns, including a December 2003 article entitled “Are American Jews Becoming Republican? Insights into Jewish Political Behavior,” which was released by the Jerusalem Center.
At HUC-JIR Dr. Windmueller is engaged in teaching, writing about issues affecting the Jewish community, and serving as a national consultant to Jewish and non-Jewish institutions. Active in the Jewish community, he currently serves on various community boards.