In a historic ceremony on its Wilf Campus on Sunday, September 10th, Yeshiva University celebrated the investiture of its fifth president, Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman. Before a crowd of more than 2,000 – including guests such as New York Senator Charles E. Schumer and former Senator Joseph Lieberman – Dr. Berman unveiled his vision for the future of the University.
“Most new presidents of universities need to learn the story of their institutions to understand their narrative and its purpose, but I do not need to read a history book to understand Yeshiva University – it is in my heart and it is in my soul,” said Dr. Berman. “In an era in which there is a breakdown of civic and civil conversation, Yeshiva University is uniquely positioned to address the most pressing moral issues of the day. Moving forward, we will continue to be steadfast in bringing to bear our vast, interdisciplinary resources on these fundamental issues both for the general public and also internally for our students. We stand proud as educators, thought leaders and moral voices for our generation.”
YU’s Wilf Campus was adorned with festive balloons and decorations to mark the occasion as hundreds of students, alumni and community members flooded the campus to inaugurate their new president. Following a performance of the national anthem by a capella group the Y-Studs, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis delivered the ceremony’s invocation. Mark Wilf, honorary chair of the Investiture Committee and member of the YU Board of Trustees, welcomed the audience to the momentous event, while Senator Schumer expressed his excitement to partner with Dr. Berman in his new role as president.
Dr. Berman’s Investiture address focused on five Torot, core values, that shape the mission of the University and, according to Dr. Berman, “position YU to be the educational and intellectual epicenter of a large global movement.”
He described these values as Torat emet, the pursuit of truth; Torat chayim, the responsibility to be guided by those truths as we actively engage with the world; Torat adam, the drive to actualize our potential as individuals; Torat chessed, the moral and ethical imperative of compassion and kindness; and Torat Tziyon, the charge to move history forward toward redemption and a better world.
To propel YU toward this vision, Dr. Berman outlined three areas in which YU will expand its focus during his tenure. First, he noted that while the University already has a celebrated reputation in fields such as law, medicine, accounting, finance, psychology and education, the University will create new opportunities to match growing global demand for graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, as well as the health industries. The University will also take advantage of technological innovations to reach out to new markets of students with ever more diverse offerings, particularly by creating new programming that allows high school students to earn college credit for online courses during their senior year or over the summer, which will defray costs while giving students a head start on their college education.
Finally, YU will focus on creating new educational pathways between existing programs to create a richer experience for its students. Students can also expect to see even more partnerships between YU and institutions in Israel and around the globe, in addition to more international students enrolled in the University’s brick and mortar programs as well as its online offerings.
Following the Investiture, the Wilf Campus was transformed into a colorful street fair for InvestFest, a communal celebration that featured live music, carnival games and kosher gourmet food trucks. Investiture guests mingled with local community members as together they marked a new era in YU history.
Throughout Dr. Berman’s inaugural year, YU will hold a series of thought-provoking events exploring critical issues facing the Jewish community, higher education and beyond. For more information, please visit yu.edu/tomorrow.