Yeshiva University has announced the establishment this semester of undergraduate honors programs, in both Jewish and secular disciplines, at Yeshiva College and Stern College for Women.
The programs, the first of their kind at the colleges, were launched in conjunction with two donations totaling $20 million: one from Jay and Jean Schottenstein of Columbus, Ohio, for Yeshiva College; the other, for Stern College, from an anonymous donor said to be a family with a history of longtime support for YU.
The Schottensteins, too, have a significant connection with the school. Jay is chairman of Yeshiva College’s board of directors, as well as a university trustee. In addition, the Schottensteins had previously provided funds to create a residence hall on the Midtown campus and a student center at the Washington Heights campus.
Yeshiva president Norman Lamm said the new honors programs will help YU attract “the best and the brightest students” seeking an education combining Jewish studies with an arts and sciences curriculum. “Now, with the addition of these new honors programs, the brightest students can enjoy the best of both worlds.”
He pointed out that the school “has made significant progress in enhancing the quality of its undergraduate programs in arts and sciences. As a result, we have achieved both record enrollment and a rating by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top 50 universities in America for three consecutive years.”
The two donations, said Lamm, will “substantially accelerate the pace of progress by adding a new dimension” to the curriculums.
According to Norman Adler and Karen Bacon, respective deans of Yeshiva College and Stern College, both schools expect to admit 20 to 40 students annually to the honors programs, where scholarships will be awarded for academic potential as well as financial need.
The 16 honors courses at Yeshiva College will include such varied offerings as intensive Latin; post-modernity and deconstruction; the Arthurian legend; the construction of the Other; science and religion; composition and literature; the sociology of the American Jewish community; and nationalism and patriotism.
The 19 honors course at Stern will include the architecture of New York City; biology essentials; literature and art; history of halacha; Ramban and his thoughts; biomedical research; Jewish laws of daily life; and Western Civilization.
“Improving education is an important end in itself for any school,” observed Lamm. “But for the undergraduate programs at Yeshiva University, even more is at stake because our mission includes educating young men and women who will lead the way not only in the professions and business, but also in the Jewish community. Thus, these gifts are not only thoughtful, they are visionary and vital.”