Recognizing The Many Accomplishments of Dean Goldschmidt
After Nearly 50 Years at Touro, Dean Robert Goldschmidt is Just Getting Started
When speaking to Dean Robert Goldschmidt, vice president for planning and assessment for Touro University and dean of students for the Lander College of Arts & Sciences, it can be difficult to separate the man from the institution.
It’s understandable, though in a sense, doing so undersells Dean Goldschmidt. After all, this is an individual who has received rabbinic ordination, or semicha, was named a member of Phi Beta Kappa upon earning his bachelor’s degree from Brooklyn College — the Phi Beta Kappa key was the first gift he gave to his wife after they were engaged — and earned a master’s degree in political science at New York University, where he completed his doctoral coursework, was a National Defense Education Scholarship recipient and served as a research fellow at the Center for International Studies.
While one can distinguish Dean Goldschmidt’s accomplishments beyond his work at Touro, it would take a fiction writer of enormous talents to imagine Touro without Dean Goldschmidt.
A Storied Career Begins
The dean, who was recently the first recipient of Touro’s Gold Medal of Achievement for Distinguished Service, hasn’t been at Touro since the beginning, but he came awfully close. In 1974, four years after Dr. Bernard Lander founded the college and three years after it welcomed its first 35 students, Dean Goldschmidt arrived for an interview at the main campus, in those days located at 30 West 44th Street in Manhattan. The building had six floors and an old-fashioned elevator (“It wasn’t so old fashioned in those days,” he said) directed by an elevator operator.
“I told the person—he was somewhat short—what floor I wanted to go to, and it turned out the elevator operator was my interviewer, Dr. Lander,” he said.
For two years, Dean Goldschmidt taught full time in the Department of Political Science, but when the dean of students left Touro in 1976, Dr. Lander took a chance on the young professor and named him Assistant Dean of Students on a trial basis. After another two years, he became the permanent Dean of Students, a title he maintains today, along with several others he picked up along the way, one of which is Touro’s accreditation liaison officer to the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, a not-insignificant role that takes up a great portion of his time. In that capacity, Dean Goldschmidt helped facilitate Touro’s expansion and development of new campuses.
“It’s been a varied career with titles that have evolved, and a workload and responsibilities that have steadily increased. I’m very proud of the many things I have done,” he said. “But central to what I take pride in is the focus and impact on students, in terms of providing guidance and pathways to their own growth and professional career success.”
The most important thing we should focus on if we reflect on Touro at 50 is the impact of the institution over half a century on the lives of tens of thousands of graduates.
To adhere to, to empower the community, to serve the Jewish Community. We want to make it possible for that student, that young man or that young woman to face life the issues and the decisions they must make and to make those decisions in the most logical and wisest way possible.
We have molded the lives of the students. We have enriched their lives, transformed their lives for the better. I am very very proud of having been associated with that.
Helping Build a Legacy
Today, Touro hardly resembles the small institution Dean Goldschmidt walked into almost a half-century ago. Dean Goldschmidt said that in the 70s and 80s, many people thought, if not articulated outright, that Dr. Lander was “somewhat delusional in his ambitions to build this major institution with all these graduate and professional programs.” But by the time of Dr. Lander’s passing, the dean noted, most of his dreams had already been realized, and Touro’s acquisition of New York Medical College was being finalized while the opening of its dental school was only a few years away.
“In that sense, it’s a tectonic transformation, which has continued under President Alan Kadish who has amplified the medical, health science and research capacity,” he said.
And for sure, the New York State Board of Regents decision earlier this year to grant Touro university status is a substantial part of that.
Dean Goldschmidt maintains, however, that despite its exponential growth, several of the core aspects of Touro are the same. “Every student has his or her needs and different aspirations and different goals, and the importance of delivering a personalized student experience was really part of the initial theme of Touro’s mission,” he said. “The focus on personalized education is a constant, which has been retained.”
“Dean Goldschmidt is a Touro icon,” said Dr. Alan Kadish, Touro President. “Generations of students have benefitted from his leadership, insight and guidance. The personal attention and care he gives to each and every student truly exemplifies what a Touro education is all about.”
A Life of Purpose
With no shortage of responsibilities—and new ones seemingly added at every turn—and first a college, now a university that has gone well beyond its loftiest of expectations, it’s worth asking why Dean Goldschmidt has stayed so long. Certainly no one would blame him for deciding to take a step back and admire his handiwork. After all, it’s been almost 50 years.
“An industrialist builds a particular industry and then can hand it over to somebody else,” he said. “I look at this as a renewed opportunity with each new class, each generation of students. It’s a continual pursuit of passion.”
“I sometimes say to my students, ‘Ask yourself: What kind of life do you want to lead, one that is self-centered, or one that is centered on other people?’ And I’m focused on a life that is centered on other people. That itself gives me satisfaction and a great deal of joy.”
Dean Goldschmidt will be honored for his service at Touro’s 50th anniversary gala on December 4 at the Marriott Marquis in NYC. To make reservations, visit 50.touro.edu/gala