The founding dean of Touro's Lander College of Arts and Sciences, Dr. Robert Goldschmidt, is celebrating 41 years with the college. In honor of this milestone, Arutz Sheva had the opportunity to sit down with Dean Goldschmidt to discuss the opportunities Touro affords the religious Jewish community, as well as some of the challenges Orthodox Jews face when they join the workforce.
Dr. Goldschmidt said that he is just as dedicated to his students' success as he was back in 1976, when Lander College first opened its doors. In accordance with the impetus for establishing the college, he is particularly committed to helping yeshiva and seminary students achieve professional success while keeping their faith and identities.
"We were the first school in Brooklyn to offer a quality college education in a non-coeducational setting, one that used a calendar in sync with all Jewish holidays and with faculty who share the Torah values of their students," Goldschmidt said. "Touro opened a door to higher education, a pathway for advancement previously unavailable to strictly religious observant Jews in Brooklyn."
He added that "Our original goal remains unchanged—helping students prepare for promising careers to support Torah families in dignity."
When asked what he believed to be the greatest success at Touro in Flatbush, Goldschmidt immediately pointed to the school’s vastly increased academic offerings, after starting with only three majors—all in business and the opening of a modern, full service campus on Avenue J.
"Today we offer close to 25 majors and pre-professional options in a wide range of fields, including health sciences and pre-medicine, accounting, technology, psychology, and political science, and five years ago we added several honors program options."
He also noted the individual success of thousands of alumni, highlighting in particular New York State Senator Simcha Felder, New York City Councilman David Greenfield, National Security Agency Chief Risk Officer Anne Neuberger, Ruchie Freier, an attorney and the founder of a women’s EMT ambulance corps in Brooklyn and Dr. Israel Deutsch, the director of Clinical Operations in Radiology Oncology at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center.
Goldschmidt pointed to some of the factors hindering members of the religious community in their careers.
"We live in a knowledge-based world and employment opportunities with significant earning potential require young men and women to be well-educated and to possess specific skills and competencies to be competitive," he said. "Those in our community who enter the job market with a mere high school diploma have fewer opportunities available to them, and many of the jobs open to such individuals are low-paying with little or no opportunity for career advancement."
When it comes to skills needed for career success in today’s market, Goldschmidt said that excellent written and oral communication skills are essential, as well as computer literacy, critical thinking and the ability to analyze data and make real world recommendations based on that analysis.
Asked which careers work well with a religious lifestyle, Goldschmidt pointed to accounting (CPA) as well as the health sciences. Accountants are needed in every type of economy, and the field attracts many frum professionals. Health sciences — including physician assistant, occupational therapy, physical therapy and nursing — offer flexible work hours, good salaries and the ability to contribute to society and perform acts of chesed, or kindness, while on the job.
"Opportunities in computers and technology fields are also booming," said Goldschmidt. "And finally, there are also opportunities in vocational fields that do not require a college education but only short-term training."