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Hebrew Union College may close campuses

by Brad A. Greenberg

April 16, 2009 | 9:06 pm

Last summer, the dean of the L.A. campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion told me his university was considering reducing its workweek to four days. Nothing came of this, but I believe in February the school’s academic senate voted to invoke a pay cut rather than lay off faculty. And now Rabbi David Ellenson, president of the four-campus university, has sent a letter explaining that HUC-JIR’s financial troubles are so profound that two campuses may be shut down:

As a result, Ellenson wrote, the college’s board of governors will meet next month to discuss such “radical” scenarios as keeping just one of its three U.S. campuses, which are in Los Angeles, New York and Cincinnati, where it was founded. Other alternatives include merging some academic programs but keeping more than one campus open in the U.S., he wrote. A final decision is expected in June.

The Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion also has a campus in Jerusalem, which apparently is not in danger of closing but faces budget reductions.

Cincinnati is the historic home of the college, and the Los Angeles campus has a close relationship, including sharing faculty and facilities, with USC. My colleague, Rachel Heller, is calling around trying to confirm just what’s on the table. Being that this is the last day of Passover, reaching anyone has thus far proven challenging.

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