Academic Concerns

Letter to the Editor

Published November 30, 2011, issue of December 09, 2011.
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The Touro College community was deeply disappointed by two recent Forward articles: “Is Jerusalem Online U. a Real College?” (November 11) and “Touro Under Scrutiny Over Israel Class” (November 18).

Touro College is a respected, fully accredited, Jewish-sponsored independent institution of higher and professional education with some 19,000 students enrolled at schools and divisions throughout New York City and around the world.

Unfairly zeroing in on one single element of a single class, the articles reported on a course for credit called Israel Inside/Out. Taught by our faculty, this course uses its own syllabus designed and implemented by our faculty, and its own assignments, tests and Blackboard system. The course’s goals are strictly academic in nature. It contains a wide spectrum of reading material and assignments reflecting multiple viewpoints.

The required syllabus includes well-known critics of Israel. As part of its wide spectrum of readings, Israel Inside/Out includes multimedia content from Jerusalem Online U, an entity that is not a university and does not offer courses for credit. Ignoring the facts, your reporting incorrectly advised readers that the course aimed to encourage students to conform to a political agenda.

As an institution, we support and, when appropriate, take a stand to advance Israel’s safety and security. But this course offers a wide overview of Israel’s various political challenges. A certain amount of academic freedom is appropriate in any university and this course falls well within the spectrum of what is not only appropriate, but also ideal for an educational experience.

Moreover, despite an inaccurate and misleading headline stating that Touro was “under scrutiny,” there is, and was, no such scrutiny. We do not and will never give credit for “advocacy” courses. Readers of The Forward were done a disservice by the creation of these false impressions.

As a matter of principle, Touro College demands that our courses adhere to the highest standards of academic quality. We support the inviolate principle of academic freedom, and we shall continue to uphold our commitment to academic excellence.

Rabbi Moshe D. Krupka

Senior Vice President for College Affairs

Touro College and University

New York

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