American Jewish University
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Its largest component is its Whizin Center for Continuing Education in which 12,000 students are enrolled annually in non-credit granting courses. A prominent program of the Center is the university's annual speaker series, featuring luminaries like Tony Blair, Colin Powell, and other political and diplomatic leaders.
AJU's academic division includes the College of Arts and Sciences, leading to a B.A. degree in majors such as Biology & Bioethics (pre-med), Business Administration & Innovation, Media Arts, Jewish Studies, Politics & Global Studies, and Psychology. In addition, AJU offers graduate degrees through the Fingerhut School of Education, The David L. Lieber Graduate School, and the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, a Conservative Jewish rabbinical seminary. AJU is host to the Miller Introduction to Judaism Program, which prepares students to convert to Judaism and engages interfaith couples and families, as well as three "think tanks": the Institute on American Jewish-Israel Relations, and the Sigi Ziering Institute for Exploring the Ethical and Religious Implications of the Holocaust and the Center for Policy Options. Through the Brandeis-Bardin Institute, the University has oversight over Camp Alonim and Gan Alonim Day Camp.
The University of Judaism was founded in 1947. The spiritual founder was Dr. Mordecai Kaplan, a Jewish thinker and philosopher whose goal was to create an institution representing the diversity of Judaic expression in the United States. Another co-founder was Rabbi Jacob Pressman. Initially a project of the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City and the Bureau of Jewish Education of Greater Los Angeles, the UJ became an independent institution in the 1970s. It became officially non-denominational with the ascension to the presidency of Dr. Robert Wexler in 1992. Dr. Wexler was preceded in the presidency by Dr. Simon Greenberg (1947–1963) and Dr. David Lieber (1963–1992).
In March 2007, officials from both the University of Judaism and the Brandeis-Bardin Institute, an education and camping organization in Simi Valley, announced the two parties would merge into a new organization called the American Jewish University with UJ President Dr. Robert Wexler at the helm.
Campus resources and facilitiesEdit
The American Jewish University is home to the Ostrow Library, which boasts over 120,000 volumes, extensive electronic resources, and contains one of the West Coast's largest collections of Judaica. The campus also includes the Gindi Auditorium, a 475-seat theatre featuring many concerts, celebrations, and other programs. The campus also includes dormitories and a recently completed student union with fitness facilities, a basketball court, and grass field.
The Marjorie and Herman Platt Gallery and Borstein Art Gallery play host to many major exhibitions, both of Jewish and non-Jewish art. Past artists at the Platt Gallery have included David Hockney, Jim Dine and Frank Stella as well as works by the Gallery's donor, Herman Platt. The Smalley Sculpture Garden on the campus grounds has a collection that includes the work of well-known contemporary sculptors. Dedicated in 1981, the sculptures include works by Beverly Pepper, Sol LeWitt, George Rickey, Jenny Holzer, Anthony Caro and George Rickey.
The College of Arts and SciencesEdit
The College of Arts and Sciences was the program of undergraduate study at AJU. It was announced in October, 2018 that the university will close the undergraduate program.
The academic program itself at the College granted the Bachelor of Arts degree. The core curriculum provided foundational knowledge in the Liberal Arts with a focus on social justice and ethical leadership, consisting of the study of Western and Jewish civilization, psychology, sociology, science, math, writing, and public speaking. Several academic majors and minors were offered including:
- Biology & Bioethics (including Pre-Med), Business Administration & Innovation, Jewish Studies, Media Arts, Politics & Global Studies, and Psychology
The College also permitted students to design individualized programs of study in consultation with their academic advisor. The College encouraged students to take leadership roles both on campus and in social, political, and religious work in the greater Los Angeles area.
The American Jewish University was home to an active undergraduate student life. Students were encouraged to participate in student organizations in order to enrich their undergraduate experience. If a student determined that an organization they might be interested in was not yet established, students were welcome to establish new clubs and receive funding based upon student support and need.
Student organizations included: the ASAJU (Student Government), Bio-Ethics Association, Hillel, Honor Society, Israel Action, Model United Nations, Political Science Association, Peer Mentoring Program, Psychology Association, Sports Club, and Tikkun Olam (Social Action).
The Lieber School of Graduate StudiesEdit
The Lieber School of Graduate Studies offers programs in Nonprofit Management and Jewish Communal Studies. Students may earn a Master of Business Administration degree in Nonprofit Management, or students who have already earned a Master of Arts degree in some other field may earn an M.A. in Nonprofit Management. The Lieber School also offers an M.A. in Jewish Communal Studies, which consists of studies of management skills as well as Jewish texts, history, and sociology.
The M.B.A. can be combined with the M.A. in Jewish Communal Studies and the other graduate degrees (see below).
Graduates of this program take leadership positions in the management of a variety of non-profit organizations.
Graduate Center for EducationEdit
The Graduate Center for Education at American Jewish University prepares educators to create and articulate a compelling vision for Jewish education and apply the knowledge, skills, creativity and leadership needed to bring that vision to life. The Fingerhut School of Education offers both a full and part-time Master of Arts in Education (MAEd), a half-time Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT), and a dual MAEd and MBA in Nonprofit Management degree. In addition, the Graduate Center for Education offers various certificate and continuing education initiatives for experienced educators.
The Ziegler School of Rabbinic StudiesEdit
In addition to Rabbinic ordination recognized by the Rabbinical Assembly of Conservative Judaism, the Ziegler School offers programs culminating in the awarding of a Master of Arts in Rabbinic Studies. This degree may be combined with the M.A.Ed. or M.B.A. programs. The Ziegler School also encompasses the Miller Introduction to Judaism Program, which supports those who are considering converting to Judaism, as well as Jews who wish to reconnect with their heritage.
AJU offers many programs of study through its Whizin Center for Continuing Education. These studies most often take the form of individual classes generally taken simply for personal enjoyment and edification. Classes are offered in language studies, Jewish studies, literature, fine arts, dance and fitness, performance arts, and other varied areas. One of its largest programs is the annual Public Lecture Series held at Universal Studios' Gibson Amphitheater and is attended by five to six thousand series ticket holders. Featured speakers have included President Bill Clinton, Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger, Madeleine Albright and Colin Powell, as well as Israeli Prime Ministers Ehud Barak and Shimon Peres.
Notable faculty and staffEdit
- Robert Wexler (rabbi), Ph.D. (President)
- David Lieber, D.H.L. (President Emeritus)
- Bradley Shavit Artson (Vice President and Dean of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies)
- Elliot Dorff, Ph.D. (Rector and Distinguished Professor of Jewish Philosophy)
- Brian Goldberg, Ph.D. (Co-Chair Department of Political Science and Member of the Beverly Hills School Board)
- Zvi Dershowitz, (Rabbi Emeritus of Sinai Temple (Los Angeles))
- Rhoda Weisman, Dean of the School of Nonprofit Management
- Larry B. Stammer, A Witness to Hate and Hope, The Los Angeles Times, October 23, 1999
- "2 Jewish educational institutes are merging," Los Angeles Times, March 22, 2007
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to American Jewish University.|
- American Jewish University
- Jewish Journal Article from March 2007 regarding merger with Brandeis-Bardin Institute