This expanding Jewish university is doing some unusual things

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When New York granted university status last February to what was known until this year as Touro College, it marked a milestone for what has become the largest college-sponsored educational institution. Jews in the United States.

Touro University, now celebrating its 50th anniversary, has grown far beyond its roots as a small college established by Dr. Bernard Lander in 1971 to give religious Jews a place to earn a university degree without compromising their Jewish principles while serving humanity more broadly, with particular emphasis on those who have been historically underserved.

Today, Touro has 19,000 students in 36 schools in five US states and four countries. Previously recognized as a university in California and Nevada before the New York Board of Regents granted it university status, Touro offers everything from half a dozen medical schools to a Jewish theological seminary and a yeshiva built of Jerusalem limestone.

Here are a few other things about this unique Jewish institution of higher learning that might surprise you.

Touro prepares to open a new medical school in Montana

Montana residents have long lamented the lack of medical schools in their state, which has the third-highest suicide rate in the nation, the ninth-oldest population, and ranks in the bottom 10 for quality of education. health care, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control, US Census Bureau and health care ranking sources. Eleven of the state’s 56 counties do not have doctors and nearly all counties lack medical professionals, according to the Montana Department of Labor and Industry.

Touro intends to fill this void with the establishment of a College of Osteopathic Medicine in Great Falls, a town of some 60,000 people. The school plans to accept 125 students to start and quickly expand to 500 students, with preference given to in-state residents.

With studies showing that 39% of doctors practice in the state where they graduated from medical school, the new school is expected to help address the doctor shortage in Montana. It would also reinforce Touro’s commitment to educating a diverse student body: Montana has a high proportion of Native American residents, and medical personnel at tribal health facilities are in dire need.

Touro already runs colleges of osteopathic medicine in the Las Vegas area, Manhattan’s Harlem neighborhood, the city of Middletown in upstate New York, and Vallejo, California, not far from San Francisco. Touro’s medical program is located at New York Medical College, the leafy school on the Westchester County campus that Touro acquired from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese in 2011. Today, that campus includes programs in medicine, dentistry , physiotherapy, speech therapy, public health, nursing, biostatistics, medical ethics and university-level biomedical sciences. Touro also runs several nursing and physician assistant programs across the country.

Uriel Waldman, a second-year dental student, in the simulation lab at Touro College of Dental Medicine. (William Taufic for the University of Touro)

Most of Touro’s students are non-Jewish, but its programs reflect the university’s rich Jewish character

In New York, Touro has long been known as a place where Orthodox students could earn a college degree without compromising their religious observance. But nationally, Touro actually has more non-Jewish students than Jews. It’s a sign of Touro’s dual mission to serve not just the Jewish community, but the entire world.

Nonetheless, Touro’s curriculum and programs reflect the Jewish character of the university. Every Touro campus offers kosher food, classes are suspended for the Sabbath and Jewish holidays, and job training often includes Jewish elements.

For example, at New York Medical College, religion is an integral part of the study of medical ethics. Students learn about the role religion plays in medical decision-making, and classes recently took a field trip to the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Manhattan where they discussed, among other things, the ethics of an anesthesiologist’s involvement. Israel’s capture of Nazi mastermind Adolf Eichmann in Argentina in 1960.

The medical school is perhaps the only one in the country where students are required to take a course in the history of medicine that includes a component on post-Holocaust bioethics. The school also has an endowed chair in this field of study.

Touro moves its central campus to Times Square in Manhattan

For many years, Touro’s headquarters were on 23rd Street in Manhattan, with larger campuses in Queens and Brooklyn. Soon, the school will have its central campus located in the heart of New York: Times Square.

Consolidated across eight floors of one of New York’s iconic skyscrapers at 3 Times Square, the 300,000 square feet of space, which will be renamed the Cross River Campus, will house Touro’s College of Pharmacy, the New York School of Career and Applied Studies, and graduate schools of business, education, Jewish studies, social work, and technology. The space will be configured to accommodate not only classrooms, but also state-of-the-art science and technology labs, event spaces, offices, a library, student lounges and cafes.

The building, which was originally designed as the North American headquarters of Reuters Group, will have a separate entrance and lobby for the university. More than 2,000 staff and students are expected to work there and attend classes daily. The university plans to move into the new premises next January.

Touro’s other locations outside of New York State include campuses in Nevada, Illinois, New Mexico and California, and overseas in Jerusalem, Berlin and Moscow.

By announcing its new Times Square campus under a 30-year lease, the university reaffirmed both its commitment to New York City and the importance of in-person learning after having to switch during the pandemic to online and hybrid education. Touro actually launched its first online doctoral program in 1998, making it the very first regionally accredited online doctoral program open to students worldwide. This program was particularly attractive to members of the United States Armed Forces, who sought to advance their education while stationed overseas.

An architectural rendering of the future home of Touro University in Times Square, New York. (Touro)

Touro is particularly focused on the underserved

Touro’s dual mission of strengthening Jewish heritage while serving humanity at large, with a particular focus on the historically underserved, is the idea behind not only the opening of the medical school in Montana , but also campuses in New York that largely serve Hispanics and African Americans. populations.

In areas around its osteopathic medical schools near Las Vegas and San Francisco, Touro sends mobile medical units to provide free health checkups to the elderly, homeless and other underserved populations.

Touro is the brainchild of a sociologist rabbi who ran the school until he was 90 and is now led by a doctor who helped make it a health sciences powerhouse

For decades, Touro has been synonymous with the man who founded the university and transformed it from a dream into an international institution: Bernard Lander, who designed Touro in a way he hoped would empower Jews practitioners to attend college free from the secularizing influences of a large college campus. Touro students could plan their classes not only around their religious obligations, but also days spent in yeshiva. Many Touro students still combine their university studies (in the evening) with yeshiva learning (during the day). A men’s college in Boro Park, Brooklyn, for example, caters largely to Hasidic students.

Shortly before Lander’s death in 2010 at the age of 94, Touro brought in Dr. Alan Kadish as senior provost and chief operating officer. A prominent cardiologist, teacher, and administrator from New York who had taught at the University of Michigan and had a 19-year tenure at Northwestern University, Kadish soon succeeded Lander as president and got to work. to orchestrate significant strategic expansion while respecting Touro’s special Jewish character. .

Today, Touro has grown to encompass 36 programs – from undergraduate schools to graduate and professional schools, including a dental school, six medical schools and a biomedical research institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico. . Touro offers programs in accounting, psychology, occupational and physical therapy, pharmacy, nursing, education, Jewish studies, business, technology, and more.

When Touro opened her dental school at New York Medical College in 2016, it became the state’s first new dental school in nearly 50 years. The third dental school in the New York area, it offers technically advanced training in digital dentistry. Highlighting the urgent need for more dental schools, Touro’s program is currently attracting about 3,000 applications for its 110 places, according to Touro officials. Touro Dental Health, the clinical teaching practice located at Touro Dental School, recently launched a teledentistry service to serve online patients with urgent dental needs.

“Our decisions about where and when to grow are strategic. We focus where there is real synergy,” Kadish said. “Over the past two years, we have launched major projects and programs at incredibly short notice,” he added. “We are able to launch a new medical school or a new physician assistant program, for example, because we have the expertise and the experience, and because the people of Touro are always ready to join forces. to offer the insight and input needed to make things happen. Our staff, faculty and administration are extremely dedicated to the mission.

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