Statement by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion - Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
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Statement by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion

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Thursday, November 5, 2009

November 2, 2009                                                                 


Statement by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion


The Board of Governors of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) has approved a plan for its future at a meeting on November 2, 2009.  This plan, entitled “A New Way Forward,” charts a five-year process based on three principles: attaining financial sustainability, sustaining academic excellence, and maintaining geographic presences in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York.  It provides a vision for the College-Institute as the intellectual, spiritual, and professional leadership development center for Reform Judaism and the Jewish people. 


The plan has been designed to guarantee HUC-JIR’s future by responsible, prudent financial planning that monetizes non-core real estate and expands fundraising while maintaining the campus presences that are so important to the vibrancy of the Reform Movement.  The plan allows HUC-JIR to benefit from new technology that strengthens academic offerings, enriches pedagogy, and extends institutional reach, by integrating programs across campuses, improving utilization of HUC-JIR’s world-class faculty and staff, slimming facilities and other fixed costs where possible, and taking best advantage of four regional presences to provide the superb Jewish professional leadership and outstanding academic resources that congregants, synagogue leadership, and alumni have come to expect from the College-Institute.  


Rabbi David Ellenson, HUC-JIR President, stated, “This plan provides a vision for our role as the preeminent progressive seminary of the 21st century addressing contemporary Jewish demographic, societal, and educational trends and responding to the challenges and needs of a changing Jewish world. The College-Institute is dedicated to developing leadership capable of offering a meaningful bridge between Jewish tradition and contemporary reality, applying the approaches of Reform Judaism to the key issues of the day, and advancing the critical study of Judaism through the highest standards of scholarship.  This plan calls for the unity and consolidation of our entire institution, and enables the College-Institute to create a single institution and single faculty, embrace new technology, and realize our vision as ‘One College.’  Through the implementation of this plan, we will emerge strengthened and capable of achieving our sacred mission of preparing men and women for careers of service to the Jewish people.”


Barbara Friedman, Chair of the Board of Governors, said, “This plan provides a process to minimize duplication, maximize synergy, and achieve financial stability, and, most importantly, guarantees the academic integrity of this institution.  Maintaining our geographic presences reinforces our recruitment and outreach, and strengthens our direct service to congregations throughout North America where our students and alumni are respected and treasured. We are committed to the essential role we play in sustaining Jewish faith, identity, and values in communities throughout North America, Israel, and around the world, and to ensuring the vitality of Reform Judaism for our children, grandchildren, and the generations to come.”


The plan projects cumulative structural changes of $7 million by FY 2014 in relation to a budget of $40 million in FY 2008 with no deficit by FY 2012.


The plan provides for academic excellence, revenue enhancements, and expense reductions through:

  • academic integration through the implementation of e-learning classrooms, cross-campus and hybrid learning, enriched pedagogy, and consistent alignment of curriculum across campuses to enhance academic excellence as one institution with a single, united faculty;
  • enhanced cooperation with partner academic institutions for opportunities for increased efficiency and economy;
  • a synergized relationship between the College-Institute and the Union for Reform Judaism, the congregational arm of the Movement, with the aspiration of joining forces in a shared Center for Reform Judaism in New York;
  • a special endowment campaign;
  • personnel and administrative expense reductions;
  • faculty reduction through voluntary separation, attrition, and retirement while sustaining emerging, junior faculty; and
  • restructuring of non-core real estate holdings.   


To ensure the timely implementation of this plan, the administration will form an implementation committee to establish the schedule determining the roll-out of the reorganization plan for HUC-JIR.


“A New Way Forward” provides an optimal opportunity for the College-Institute to achieve a firm financial foundation for the future, while enhancing student learning, strengthening faculty teaching and scholarship, reinforcing the vital links between the seminary for Reform Judaism, the congregations of the Union for Reform Judaism, and the larger Jewish community throughout North America and worldwide, and further developing constructive relationships with academic partners. 


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.