Yeshiva University’s Sy Syms School of Business celebrated its 26th anniversary and the graduating class of 2013 with a Gala Awards Dinner on April 23. The evening honored students and faculty who excelled within their fields and demonstrated exceptional character and included a presentation of the inaugural Sy Syms Humanitarian Award to New York Daily News and U.S. News & World Report publisher Mortimer B. Zuckerman.
“We come tonight with a full heart to celebrate the arrival of the Sy Syms School of Business as an institution of the first ranks, newly accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, with the establishment of a new honors program and tremendous success on the parts of the students, deans and faculty,” said YU President Richard M. Joel, listing a few of the school’s most notable recent accomplishments.
The AACSB accreditation, obtained in March, is an especially significant achievement for Sy Syms, as it has only been awarded to some 6 percent of more than 10,000 business schools worldwide.
“The Sy Syms School of Business plays a vital role in Yeshiva University’s mission and it has made enormous strides in the last few years in both the quality of its faculty and course offerings, which is reflected in the success of our alumni,” said Dr. Henry Kressel, chair of the YU Board of Trustees, in an address to students before the awards ceremony.
“Today, business schools are learning that they should not only provide you with a set of tools as you start your professional journey, but with a location to interpret life’s meaning and challenge and sharpen your sense of purpose about the very reason you’re going into business in the first place,” said Sy Syms Dean Moses Pava. “The point is not to bifurcate our lives but to lead lives of meaning and integrity, or, as President Joel says, shleimut—wholeness.”
Jonathan Weiss, one of the class’s two valedictorians, echoed that theme as he discussed the unique emphasis on ethical and moral leadership he had discovered in his business education at Sy Syms. “One of the most important lessons that I learned throughout my three years here, in my interactions with everyone from the wonderful roshei yeshiva to my professors and fellow students, is the importance of integrity in everything we do,” he said. “We must always be aware that wherever we go, we are representative of not only Yeshiva University but all committed Jews, and we must show ourselves to be ethical in all our doings.”
The event was organized by the Sy Syms Student Council and held at the Museum of Jewish Heritage. During the formal dinner, President Joel presented Mortimer B. Zuckerman with the first-ever Sy Syms Humanitarian Award in honor of the media and real estate mogul’s efforts and ethical business practices throughout many years in philanthropy and business. Zuckerman is the co-founder and executive chairman of Boston Properties, as well as the owner and publisher of the New York Daily News and of U.S. News & World Report, where he serves as editor-in-chief.
“The issues that I care about are in many ways focused on a part of my life I’m very proud of, which is being Jewish and being a part of the Jewish world,” said Zuckerman, recalling what it meant to be a member of the Jewish community when the State of Israel was established. “I’ve never really lost the thrill of it, and I was determined to do whatever I could to support that state in its efforts to be independent, safe and a homeland for Jews who come from many other parts of the world.”
Though he warned the soon-to-be-graduates that they may be facing one of the worst job markets since he himself graduated from business school, Zuckerman reminded them that there were still and would always be great opportunities. “You have the advantage of an awful lot of good training and education and commitment to doing good work,” he said. “There’s going to be a lot of ups and downs, but if you hang in there, you’ll learn that persistence and determination are about as important as any other quality you’ll bring to your work.”