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Gratz College
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Office of the Chancellor

an image of Gratz President Paul Finkelman

Welcome to the Gratz College academic year of 2021-22.  Two years ago, we celebrated our 125th Anniversary as the oldest independent Jewish college in the United States.  Today, the beginning of this new academic year, Gratz will begin with new leadership.  After four years as President, I am transitioning to become the Chancellor of the College.  I will be active in strategic planning, working with students and alumni, teaching, and pursuing many scholarly activities.  Most of all, I will be working closely with our new President, Dr. Zev Eleff.  Together, with help of our faculty, staff, students, alumni, Board of Governors, and our many friends, Gratz will continue to achieve our educational mission.  

Gratz has a long history of teaching graduate students, college students, teens, and continuing education learners.  Since our founding in 1895, Gratz has remained deeply committed to Tikkun Olam – the Jewish value of “repairing the world.”  We do this through teaching, learning, and scholarship. Our programs emphasize the connection between knowledge, leadership, scholarly inquiry, and social justice across all faiths and communities. We are proud of our past and devoted to a future that values diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

For the last two decades we have provided cutting edge online education, transforming Gratz into a global institution, as we bring students together from Greater Philadelphia and the world.  Our reach is truly global.  Gratz students and alumni live in the United States and Canada, Latin America, the Middle East, Europe, East Asia, and Australia. Our students live, study, and work in major urban centers, suburbs, small towns, rural communities, and on Indian reservations. 

Gratz has always been unique.  In our first class, women and men studied side-by-side at a time when many colleges were not coeducational. Before World War II we had women faculty members, something rare at the time.  Today we are a Jewish college committed to the value of Tikkun Olam, with students and faculty of all faiths, nationalities, ethnic communities, and races. 

In the late nineteenth century, we served a largely immigrant community in Greater Philadelphia.  Many of our graduates became teachers of Hebrew language and Jewish studies.  Today we serve K-12 teachers from public and private schools around the nation with our vibrant M.Ed. and Ed.D. programs.  We have just started a new education program, offering a Master of Science in Teaching Practice. At our commencement this year we awarded our first degrees in our recently inaugurated Master of Science in Camp Administration. 

Through our online platform we offer college and graduate degree programs that serve professionals who lead and serve in schools and colleges, nonprofit organizations, camps, museums, the military, interfaith chaplaincies, religious communities of all faiths, and NGOs. 

In our newly established Center for Holocaust Studies and Human Rights, we offer a bachelor’s degree, three master’s degrees, and a Ph.D. in Holocaust and Genocide Studies, which is the world’s only doctorate in this field within a self-contained center.  We will also be offering workshops for K-12 educators on how to teach about the Holocaust.  When I came to Gratz in 2017, we had just started our Ph.D. in Holocaust and Genocide Studies.  At commencement we award our first Ph.D. degrees in that program.  

Beyond our many degree programs, we offer certificates for working professionals, non-credit continuing education courses in a wide variety of subjects, and CLE courses for lawyers. 

After 125 years, Gratz still remains committed to teaching Hebrew language, with a full range of credit and non-credit courses for all our college and graduate students, continuing education learners, and pre-collegiate students who can fulfill language requirements for their high school diplomas and also earn college credits in our Gratz Academy program. We have recently introduced courses in Yiddish as well, so that Gratz can contribute to the preservation and reinvigoration of this language.  This brings us full circle to our 19th century founding and early traditions, while moving us forward into the 21st century.

With the new leadership of President Eleff, Gratz is proudly positioned for our next century and a quarter. We invite you to join us in our commitment to teaching, learning, scholarship and Tikkun Olam.

Paul Finkelman's signature

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