COLLEGE PRESIDENTS SERIES
Alan Kadish, M.D., Touro President and CEO
By Lisa K. Winkler
Little did Alan Kadish know that he’d see his future mentor at his own medical school graduation party. Kadish, barely two months into his new job as president and chief executive officer of Touro College and Touro University, praised the late Rabbi Dr. Bernard Lander, founder of Touro, and shared his aspirations for the multi-campus education empire in an interview with Education Update.
A cardiologist, Kadish comes to Touro from Northwestern, where he served on the faculty and as an administrator for 19 years. Though a native New Yorker, Kadish said he hasn’t had much time to see the city since arriving at Touro. Serving more than 17,500 students studying at 29 locations, mostly in New York but also in California, Florida, Nevada, Moscow, Jerusalem, Berlin and Paris, Touro offers undergraduate and graduate professional degree programs in a variety of disciplines. One of its core missions is to perpetuate Jewish tradition and continuity throughout the world. Though Lander’s death in February at age 94 leaves a gap in the leadership, Kadish, who said he’s finding the new job “a huge challenge, but very rewarding,” stressed the importance of continuing the school’s commitment to serving the underprivileged, including securing funding for more scholarships and increasing its endowment. Kadish sees huge opportunities in what he calls the “cross fertilization” through interdisciplinary programs, citing a research project involving engineers and scientists to develop a new cardiac catheter and the development of more online and video courses.
Launched in 1971 by Lander as a college for Orthodox men in mid-Manhattan, Touro’s original mission was to provide Jewish students with secular educations that didn’t compromise their religious studies and obligations. Lander, a son of Polish immigrants, soon expanded the college to offer diverse programs to people of all backgrounds, attracting students with its relatively low tuition and its locations in urban areas. Touro added a women’s division in 1974, established the School for Lifelong Education, a non-traditional contract-learning-based program, in 1989, and the Institute for Professional Studies in 1999. Graduate programs in law, education, pharmacology, allied health and osteopathic medicine are among its most popular. Touro also operates yeshivas and Jewish high schools. Its partnership with New York Medical College, anticipated to be finalized by summer, will offer an allopathic medical degree, which, along with Touro’s osteopathic medical schools, Kadish hopes will help alleviate the primary-care-physician shortage he predicts will occur when current health care legislation becomes law.
For Kadish, board certified in internal medicine, cardiovascular disease and cardiac electrophysiology, running Touro leaves no time for clinical work, although he still engages in his research at Northwestern once a week. “I’m immersed in Touro; I can’t do the kind of medicine I do as a hobby,” he said. He hopes to increase Touro’s participation in research, noting that funding and regulation remain the largest hurdles.
Kadish relocated to Teaneck, N.J., where he lives with his wife and teenage child. Three older children are in college. To unwind, he plays bridge, mountain bikes, and reads novels by Ian McEwan — noting his favorite is Saturday, a story about a British neurosurgeon — and nonfiction by Simon Winchester.
In his brief tenure, Kadish said he’s been “impressed by the talented and dedicated staff and hopes to meet more students as time goes on.” #