Yeshiva University Announces Layoffs

yuLetter from Yeshiva University President Richard Joel

Feb. 9, 2009/15 Shevat 5769

Dear Members of the Yeshiva University Community,

I write to you at a challenging moment for Yeshiva University and its family. In an effort to maintain the strength of the special enterprise that is YU, we are making hard choices and reducing our operating budget by close to $30 million. None of the choices has been harder than the decision, announced today, that we are laying off approximately 60 of our employees throughout the Manhattan campuses.

As I have reported to you, we have taken many steps over the past few months to find other ways to meet our budget reduction mandate, ranging from charging our vice presidents to find new ways to reduce spending wherever possible, to offering voluntary separation packages to qualifying employees. Our overall goal has been to do whatever we could to minimize the impact of our financial issues on the student and academic experience both in and beyond the classroom.

We cannot eliminate the pain felt by those members of our community who are losing their jobs, particularly in these economic times, but we have put measures in place to show support and give assistance. We have developed a generous severance package which includes salary continuation and extended benefits, such as health insurance and on-campus tuition benefits, beyond that which is required and normally provided by institutions like ours. We are also offering additional support to affected employees by providing job search support and counseling.

It is essential that YU deal properly and purposefully with the new economic realities that confront us all. Part of our commitment is ensuring that students and their families can afford a Yeshiva University education: We are reframing our budget, not just to eliminate the structured deficit, but to keep the cost of attending the undergraduate schools as affordable as possible by freezing tuition and increasing financial aid. We have always been mindful of the costs of education, looking for ways to do more with less, while building a great university; now we must look harder. These layoffs are part of an overall reduction in staff – through a hiring freeze, early retirement and voluntary separation packages – that totals approximately 120 positions. Other steps we are taking include:

  • Cutting non-personnel expenses by 23 percent
  • Fortifying sound business processes
  • Ensuring all appropriate savings, consistent with the unique research-driven academic programs, at Albert Einstein College of Medicine
  • Radically scaling back our capital expenditures
  • Focusing our substantial fundraising efforts on student aid and other core priorities
  • Continuing to find efficiencies through vigilant review of all expenses by the professional staff and the trustees; vehicles such as the staff Cost Savings Task Force; and suggestions made by faculty, staff and students to the President

As a result of all of this, we have an operating plan for the coming year that ensures our delivering on the promise we make to our families: providing a superb education for every Yeshiva University student, while keeping YU strong and helping us weather the economic climate. We are very fortunate to have an extraordinary group of lay leaders who share our commitment to the future.

Yeshiva University’s mission has never been as vital as it is today.

Our values are invaluable and our education is non-negotiable. But to write this is to be reminded that it is not words, but people, who bring wisdom to life. What make Yeshiva special are the caring and best actions of those who serve this community every day in a myriad of ways and places – people whose positive attitudes enliven student living and learning in ways both memorable and subtle. We are an institution filled with such people; but we are the poorer for having to say goodbye to several of them today.

In these challenging times, I encourage you to convey your concerns through all appropriate channels.