It’s been one year since Dr. Alan Kadish assumed the helm of Touro College, an institution that has seen rapid growth in recent years and now encompasses 29 schools educating 17,500 students in New York, California, Nevada, Florida, Israel, Russia, Germany and France. Kadish, a cardiologist and academic by training, had been appointed senior provost and chief operating officer of Touro by Dr. Bernard Lander less than six months before Dr. Lander’s death. In an exclusive interview with The Jewish Week, Kadish speaks frankly about the challenges of filling Dr. Lander’s big shoes, his vision for the future of Touro, and the changes he has already begun to implement during his short time in office.
Q: What do you view as your biggest accomplishments since you became president and CEO of Touro College?
A. Moving Touro forward without Dr. Lander’s extraordinary presence, both on an operational level, strategic planning level and board level. Dr. Lander really was Touro. With the help of employees and a supportive board, the school has carried forward, I believe, without any major problems.
Dr. Lander served as Touro’s one and only president for four decades. What has it been like to step into his shoes?
He was such a creative thinker and builder that his presence certainly has been missed, and it’s been a challenge continuing his work. The fact that he left in place an infrastructure that is strong and a school of great quality makes it easier to move forward.
Did Dr. Lander share with you his vision for Touro’s future?
He left general instructions behind. It was pretty clear from watching him work in what direction he wanted to take the school. He was a proponent of trying to provide education throughout the world to people who needed it, regardless of location.
In the past decade, Touro has expanded rapidly, opening branches in Russia, Germany, and France, among others. Do you envision continuing this phase of expansion?
One of the things we’ve been able to do in the past year is balance the operations budget, which is a challenge for any university. This meant that we temporarily entered more of a consolidation phase. We’re focusing on quality, developing interdisciplinary programs, and inter-school synergies. We’d also like to develop more of a research footprint, rather than continuing with rapid expansion.
Do you envision Touro becoming a premier research university?
Touro will always remain primarily an education school, not a research university. Our professors all teach extensively. That said, from a scientific and educational standpoint, we feel that developing a research footprint is important. We have recently developed a research office, a place where a cadre of employees who understand research regulations, grants and the process of science will assist young faculty members. Currently, Touro faculty members are making significant progress in research on juvenile diabetes and new techniques in medical education. The purpose is dual. There is an intrinsic quality of science, and we’ll be able to provide students with better internship opportunities.
What are some of the ways you are encouraging collaboration among Touro’s schools?
We have a lot of schools that could work well together, but since Touro expanded so rapidly, there has not always been an opportunity to create collaboration. We set up a joint program between undergraduate colleges [Lander College for Men In Queens and Lander College for Women on the Upper West Side] and Touro’s health sciences schools called the Integrated Health Science Honors Program. Students applying for undergraduate degrees will automatically be admitted to graduate school for degrees in physical therapy, occupational therapy, physician assistant, and speech-language pathology. The number of classes required for each phase is the same.
Overall, do you think this has been a successful transition?
I think it’s been successful. But that’s for other people to determine.