Yeshiva U. Sheds Burden of Albert Einstein Medical School — But at What Cost?

'Crown Jewel' of Modern Orthodox Flagship Is Gone

Model Med School: Albert Einstein checks out scale model of Yeshiva University’s medical school in the Bronx. He is flanked by Yeshiva University president, Samuel Belkin (left) and New York’s attorney general, Nathaniel Goldstein.
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Model Med School: Albert Einstein checks out scale model of Yeshiva University’s medical school in the Bronx. He is flanked by Yeshiva University president, Samuel Belkin (left) and New York’s attorney general, Nathaniel Goldstein.

By Paul Berger

Published May 27, 2014.
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Y.U.’s latest financial statement is clear about the cause of its deficits.

It states that in addition to losses in research grant funding, Y.U. is primarily suffering because it has lost money on its investments and it is spending too much on student financial aid, faculty and facilities. Yet Einstein’s latest capital campaign is intended to recruit more faculty and to expand research and state-of-the-art facilities.

Meanwhile, after six years of deficits, Y.U.’s leadership has to figure out how to orchestrate a turnaround that, according to Moody’s, will take years.

Select faculty members not just at Einstein but across Y.U. are already being offered retirement incentives.

In a series of questions sent to Y.U. weeks before the announced merger between Einstein and Montefiore, a spokesman for Y.U. declined to comment on specific measures Einstein is taking to resolve its deficits.

In a May 12 email to the Forward, the spokesman said: “Einstein is in the process of making significant expense reductions that are designed to reduce overhead without harming the college of medicine’s core missions: educating students to become high quality, compassionate physicians, conducting biomedical research and delivering superb patient care.”

The spokesman also said that accounting systems at Einstein are now “effectively tracking our grant funding.”

He added: “Recent changes in health care reimbursement and the federal budget sequestration reduction in National Institutes of Health funding have presented severe budget challenges for grant-funded medical research at Einstein and other leading research-intensive medical schools, which we are continuing to actively address.”

A spokeswoman for Montefiore, while declining to comment on the hospital’s financial relationship with Y.U., said on May 16: “Montefiore’s partnership with Einstein is long-standing, and we remain deeply committed to its success for both research innovation and clinical advancements. We recognize the world of research faces significant challenges, and we hope the government will reinstate funding for extremely important medical research in the near term.”

A member of Y.U. faculty told the Forward, that in recent months there has been a debate among Y.U. administrators about the possibility of parting with Einstein.

“It would be a disaster if they let Einstein go,” the faculty member said.

The faculty member said that in the academic world, Yeshiva is best known for Einstein and for Cardozo, its law school.

Letting one of these highly regarded professional schools go would be a retreat away from secular studies and would push Y.U. towards a more religiously oriented school, the faculty member said.

“This is the debate,” the faculty member added. “This is the fundamental tension between the two approaches to a modern Jewish education and what it stands for.”

Contact Paul Berger at berger@forward.com or on Twitter, @pdberger


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