Touro University Marks 50 Years at Celebratory Gala
More than 1,000 Supporters, Faculty, Friends Reflect on Touro’s Past Achievements and Future Plans
More than 1,000 people converged on New York City’s Marriott Marquis this past Sunday to mark the 50th anniversary of Touro University. The feeling was one of an extended family reunion as students, alumni, faculty, friends and supporters from around the U.S. and the globe joined together for this historic milestone. Past, present and future merged at this celebration of Touro’s meteoric rise from a small college with 35 students to an academic powerhouse with 19,000 students,140,000 alumni and 246 undergraduate, graduate and professional programs producing valued leaders in medicine, business, law and more.
Tribute was paid to visionary founder, Dr. Bernard Lander, of blessed memory, whose tenacity enabled him to build a college from the ground up at age 56 and continue expanding its programs until well into his 90s. His dream of creating a center of higher education that would literally be all things to all people has been realized. Under the skillful leadership of his successor and current President, Dr. Alan Kadish, Touro has emerged as a place imbued with Jewish values where a diverse group of students attain quality education and meaningful careers in just about every field.
An Evening to Remember
Warmth, appreciation and a sense of awe could be felt throughout the event as the Touro family reflected on the scope of the University and its remarkable growth and advancement in only 50 years. The festivities began with the completion of a Sefer Torah, funded by Touro Chairman Zvi Ryzman and his wife Betty and members of the Touro Board of Trustees, in memory of former Chairman, Dr. Mark Hasten.
“When you stand on the shoulders of giants, you can accomplish beyond what you imagined possible in your wildest dreams. The history and legacy of Touro is miraculous, how appropriate that we begin our event tonight completing the writing of a Sefer Torah. This truly represents the vision of our leadership,” said Rabbi Yonason Sacks, Rosh HaYeshiva of Beis Medrash L’Talmud at Touro’s Lander College for Men.
Touro friends and supporters mingled at the reception and lauded faculty at the convocation where Pfizer Chairman and CEO, Dr. Albert Bourla, received an honorary doctorate. Entertainment was provided by internationally renowned tenor and cantor, Yaakov Lemmer, and tribute was paid to the evening’s honorees: Hon. Shelley Berkley, Dovid Lichtenstein, Dean Robert Goldschmidt and Dr. Alan Kadish.
“Throughout the year, we’ve had a number of events celebrating the 50th anniversary and tonight is the culmination. Thank you for joining us to celebrate one man’s dream that has become a magnificent reality. We have come so far together and had many achievements along the way. This year’s milestones have been the greatest of all—receiving university status chief among them. This recognizes our dedication to research and service to the community,” said President Kadish.
Dr. Kadish introduced Dr. Bourla and stated that his achievement of bringing a safe and effective COVID vaccine to market in just nine months is one that will be remembered for the ages throughout the world.
Dr. Bourla shared that Touro and Pfizer have a lot in common. “Touro and Pfizer are both committed to innovation, not for the sake of innovation, but to move the world forward and to make an impact on people’s lives. Universities like Touro that are developing bright minds have a critical role to play, as companies like Pfizer advance global health. We are living in a world with incredible scientific discovery where we can turn disease into chronic conditions and be better prepared for future pandemics.”
Serving the Jewish Community and Humanity
Dr. Kadish highlighted the success of Touro’s new initiatives and shared how Touro’s ongoing dedication and steadfast commitment to Jewish values have created an ideal learning environment for a diverse student population.
“Looking at the world today, where 73% of college students say they hide their Jewish identity on campus and 50% report experiencing antisemitism, Touro’s mission is more important than ever. Students from diverse backgrounds representing all nationalities and ethnicities share ideas, friendship and collaboration…At Touro, we are developing students who will become leaders of tomorrow, the right kind of leaders—those who are dedicated to serving society and understanding and respecting others. Here’s to the next 50 years!” said Kadish.
Echoing Dr. Kadish’s sentiments, Rabbi Moshe Krupka, Touro’s Executive Vice President, said, “We are creating something that will serve humanity well beyond our time.”
Video presentations showcased the honorees and their contribution to Touro. Rabbi Doniel Lander, Rosh HaYeshiva of Yeshivas Ohr Hachaim and Touro Chancellor, shared his perspective as the founder’s son, a Touro executive and longtime friend and colleague of Dr. Alan Kadish.
“It was easy to dismiss my father as a dreamer, but he often said ‘I may be dreaming but I’m not sleeping.’ In the parsha we just read, Yaakov Avinu dreamt he saw a ladder with angels ascending and descending. My father too shared this vision. He planted his ladder on earth where he created an institution that was rooted in reality but connected to a heavenly vision. My father connected the mundane with the transcendent and that is Touro. There were difficulties and crises along the way and my father’s optimism enabled him to see that the angels would never leave. Tonight we pay tribute to him and to Touro’s incredible leader, Dr. Alan Kadish who keeps adding new rungs on the ladder that is Touro, inspiring students and expanding our programs. The miracle truly never finishes.”
Looking Ahead to the Future
While the evening spotlighted myriad Touro achievements and leading personalities who made history over the last 50 years, Dr. Kadish shared his thoughts for the future as well. What’s next for Touro? “As we look forward to the next 50 years we’re asking ourselves—What does society need? What do our students need? How can we better serve our community? How can we do that through education, through research and inventing new knowledge and through perpetuating the Jewish tradition? How can we do it better in the next 50 years?,” asked Kadish. “Because as good as we've been, one of our underlying principles is, we can always be better. And that's our message to everybody. We don't rest on our laurels. We've accomplished a great deal, we’re proud of it, but for the future, we can be even better. And we will be!”