Hebrew Union College Appoints New President

December 18, 2018
Andrew Rehfeld. Courtesy of HUC-JIR

Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) has named Andrew Rehfeld, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis, associate professor of political science at Washington University in St. Louis and a prominent leader of the St. Louis Jewish community, its 13th president.

According to a Dec. 18 announcement by the institution, Rehfeld, 52, is set to begin his tenure on April 1, 2019.

He succeeds Rabbi Aaron Panken, who died suddenly in a plane crash this past May at the age of 53.

His appointment marks the first time that the Reform movement’s flagship seminary will not be led by a rabbi.

“We are honored and delighted to welcome Andrew Rehfeld as our new President,” Joy Greenberg, chair of the HUC-JIR presidential search committee, said in a statement.A distinguished academic and creative thought leader, Andrew is uniquely qualified intellectually, spiritually, and professionally to lead the College-Institute in our mission to transform the Jewish community and the broader world.  Andrew brings to HUC-JIR a passion for teaching and scholarship, as well as exemplary leadership skills that have set him apart as a dynamic visionary and community builder.”

As HUC-JIR president, Rehfeld will lead HUC-JIR’s four campuses in Israel, Cincinnati, New York and Los Angeles.

HUC-JIR trains rabbis, cantors, educators and nonprofit management professionals and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths.

Rabbi David Ellenson, who led HUC-JIR from 2001-2013, has been serving as HUC-JIR’s interim president following Panken’s death.

Rehfeld will hold a tenured faculty position as professor of political thought and oversee an annual operating budget of over $41 million, 36 full-time tenured faculty and an enrollment of about 400 full-time students and 800 part-time education students, graduate students and undergraduate students at HUC-JIR partner organizations, according to the HUC-JIR announcement.

Elected by the HUC-JIR board of governors on Dec. 18, Rehfeld expressed excitement about taking on the position.

“I am deeply humbled by the faith and confidence that the Search Committee and Board of HUC-JIR have placed in me.  I am thrilled by the opportunity to work collaboratively with a dynamic professional team of deans, program directors, academic administrators, and faculty across all four campuses to shape the future of professional Jewish leadership by inspiring, educating, and learning from a new generation of students,” Rehfeld said. “These are challenging times for the Jewish people that I believe HUC-JIR, as a multi-faceted institution of higher education, is well suited to address.  I can only hope to live up to the historic legacy of transformational leadership that characterized those who held this position before me, from Isaac Mayer Wise and Stephen S. Wise to David Ellenson and Aaron Panken. I am honored to have been selected as the next President of HUC-JIR.”

Rehfeld is married to psychiatrist Dr. Miggie Greenberg. They have two children.

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